As father and son, Barry and Tyler Jones share a common goal of revolutionizing the job-seeking and hiring process. Together they founded FirstString, a career technology company that aims to reimagine the hiring process for collegiate athletes, to nurture the next generation of leaders in the workforce. FirstString was founded with the belief that an individual’s skills and professional assets go far deeper than a paper-thin resumé.
Barry Jones is a US Army veteran with over 20 years of experience in sales and business development. When he transitioned to civilian life and the corporate world, he first joined pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnston. Seeking to use his creativity to help businesses grow, Barry moved on to work with startup biotechnology companies. After working with startups for over a decade, Barry sought to apply his knowledge to the field of executive recruiting. However, he immediately realized there was something wrong with the way recruiting worked and decided to create an application that would be more efficient for all involved. “The recruiting industry is stuck in the 1990s, it’s so inefficient. I started to develop a mobile application; I had this vision of how it could work and how it could really make the recruiting system much more fair and efficient for everyone involved. Everybody wins,” said Barry of his motivation.
At the same time that Barry was working as a recruiter, Tyler was a student at the University of Georgia, where he was a Division-1 collegiate athlete, running track and cross country. Through his years as a scholarship athlete and team captain, Tyler learned the importance of hard work, consistency, teamwork, discipline, and leadership. But, like many of the 480,000 other collegiate athletes across the US, the dedication toward athletic performance often leaves little time for meaningful summer jobs or internships that fill out a college grad’s resumé when applying to their first post-college job. “Their resumés are so thin, they can’t even compete with someone they sat next to in their chemistry class that got to do summer jobs or internships that lasted months,” added Barry.
“By the time I walked across the stage to receive my degree, I was still competing. People would ask me, ‘what are you going to do now?’ I would tell them I didn’t know because I didn’t have the time to really figure it out yet, I had been competing,” said Tyler. Post-graduation, Tyler jumped on the first job offer he received from a wealth management firm. “In the interview, they make it sound like it’s sunshine and rainbows. Quite frankly, I jumped the gun. I didn’t know what to expect or how to negotiate and the right questions to ask. I realized very quickly that being bolted behind a desk just wasn’t for me but I didn’t want to feel like a quitter so I stuck it through,” he added. And, as COVID-19 became a factor, Tyler experienced firsthand what it was like to feel exposed and helpless in a competitive job market.
Having experienced the challenges of the hiring and job-seeking market, Barry and Tyler realized that many qualified and overlooked student-athlete candidates have extraordinary talents and passions for their work, so they worked to develop a system that would enable new college graduates to win job interviews far outside of their experience level but within their skill level. Together, their mission is to help college athletes identify the right career trajectory so that they can build fulfilling and rewarding careers.
As Tyler and Barry began to build FirstString, they had the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, and show that there is so much more to a job candidate than what is on their resumé. FirstString is the first mobile application that enables college athletes to connect, find jobs and internships, and train for success after college.
With FirstString, employers can post jobs and internships and search for qualified candidates. Candidates can create a profile with a video introduction, skills, experiences, and references. This allows employers to get to know the candidate before even meeting them. It makes the hiring process more efficient by removing the outdated paper resumé and allowing student-athletes to display the leadership ability and other skills they bring to the table, even if they don’t have as much employment experience as some.
The pair had several large investors in their app that they ultimately turned down because of unfavorable terms. However, having received significant interest in the app from day one from everyday people, the father-son team feels RegCF can be a very powerful capital-raising tool for them. This ability to find investors who are equally as passionate about their mission highlights what the JOBS Act is all about. With RegCF, they can offer equity in FirstString to anyone, not just wealthy accredited investors.
Barry and Tyler Jones are changing the game when it comes to job seeking and hiring for student-athletes. With FirstString, they are providing a platform for athletes to connect and find jobs. This is just the beginning for the Jones duo and their goal of easing the transition for college athletes from school to employment.
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