Alex Ray, co-founder and CEO of Zyn Careers (zyncareers.com), says millennials are looking for more than just a job with a decent salary. They also place a high value on job satisfaction, doing work that is meaningful to them while interacting with amenable co-workers.
“Young people aren’t just interested in salaries,” said Ray, a 2015 graduate of the University of Mississippi. “They want work-life harmony. They want work to be a part of life they enjoy, not just a part they go to and check off for the day. We are really focused on college students and preparing people for their first job. We identify a company’s corporate culture and then see how it matches up with what the job seekers are looking for.”
Ray said there is a lot of demand for college grads. People aren’t having trouble finding jobs, but are having trouble finding jobs that make them happy. A job that is fun for one person may not be fun for someone else. Everyone has different priorities for what they want to do at work, and what missions they agree with.
Allen Kurr, vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, said Ray is a tremendous entrepreneur.
“His idea for Zyn Careers is a great one because it matches job preferences in terms of corporate culture, the environment that potential employees would like to spend their career in,” Kurr said. “Zyn Careers is an innovative technology company that has shown the entrepreneurial mindset that is evident here in Oxford. Zyn Careers really helps the millennials come into the workforce in a smoother transition that places them in a job at a place they enjoy working with like-minded peers. To see a company like that coming out of Mississippi and Oxford is very encouraging.”
After graduating, Ray was accepted into the Harvard Business School MBA program. But he was allowed to defer that work while he develops zyncareers.com.
Ray said they spend a couple of weeks with employers working with the human resources team to identify their culture. From that they make a profile. Job seekers fill out a short survey, and get a score for how well they would fit into the organizations Zyn Careers has worked with. From there job seekers are directed to application portals where they can apply for openings with those companies.
Zyn Careers also works with the companies on hiring, helping them screen potential employees to see if they are a good fit.
Feedback has been good from job seekers. Madison Blankenship, an Ole Miss student in the master’s of accountancy program, used Zyn during her search for an internship and ended up working for the firm they suggested.
“I absolutely loved it and now I am going to work there full time,” Blankenship said
“People really struggle to find direction,” Ray said. “It is a common problem for a lot of college seniors. They have a ton of options and no directions. They have no idea what to do. Zyn Careers is a way to predict job satisfaction.”
Ray said an average of 30 percent of new hires quit within the first six months. When there isn’t a good match between a new employee and the business, it is difficult on both sides of the equation. It looks bad to have short tenure on a resume. And the employee has to go through the headache of finding a job over and over again. They may have to job search almost constantly for years before finding a good fit.
For employers, it costs money to hire and then train employees. No productive work gets done and then they have to do it all over again. Ray said the problem is more expensive for employers, but more painful for the job seekers.
Marketing so far is primarily word of mouth.
“We marketed to the first 100 students through personal connections, and people told their friends about it,” Ray said. “Then it grew to 500 because people loved it. It went viral.”
The service is free for job seekers. Employers are charged to recruit through Zyn Careers, which also provides consulting on helping improve the company’s culture.
Ray gives a lot of credit for developing Zyn Careers to the team of people who have worked with him on the business, including co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Caleb Robinson, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech; Chief Operating Officer Drew Maliniak, a Princeton grad with five years of experience at Goldman Sachs; and Chief Financial Officer Wesley Howell, an investment banker in Chicago.
“We have an all-star team working on it, and an incredible team of mentors and advisors,” Ray said. “Our professors at Ole Miss helped us tremendously, especially Dr. Walter Davis, who teaches organizational behavior and management in the Ole Miss School of Business.”
Ray sees Zyn Careers growing across the country.
“We want to grow as big as we can,” he said. “We want every person out there to find a job through Zyn Careers that makes him or her happy. I think we have the ability to do that. Oxford and Mississippi are poised to be a great place for startups and innovations.”
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