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College Recruiting

(June 14, 2004) - We're big fans of the team over at Experience. A college recruiting service, the core stands out as a set of customer oriented service providers. With their customers they've compiled a set of tips for developing a college recruiting program. Here they are:

  • Tip 1:  Add Non-Core Schools Cost Effectively

    Most recruiters have a consistent group of core schools they recruit from each year by attending career fairs and interviewing on-campus.  While you're building relationships and spending time with these primary target schools, you should make sure that you don't miss out on excellent candidates at schools that you might consider if you had unlimited resources.  Augment your program easily and cost-effectively by working with these supplemental schools by posting jobs and searching resume databases online.  Organizations, like the Peace Corps, use a two-tiered strategy that lets them focus on their core campus relationships where they actively recruit on-campus, but yet allows them to consider students from other schools through more virtual means.
  • Tip 2:  Relationships Matter

    Recruiting at its essence is based on relationships, and the stronger your relationships are, the better your recruiting program can be.  One way to jumpstart this process is to reach out and connect with career center professionals at your core schools.  Get to know them, and spend time briefing them about your company and its recruiting needs.  "Relationship management is the number-one priority in CIGNA Corporation's recruiting efforts", says Jonathan Janisak, campus coordinator. CIGNA works closely with career services offices to sponsor events and hold meetings with student organizations such as business fraternities and other student leadership groups. By understanding your business better, career centers can also help you discern the nuances of their school programs, such as the best ways to reach student leaders or the meaning of a particular type of major.
  • Tip 3:  Get Noticed

    Building visibility on campus can be easy and fun, and directly interacting with students is one proven way you can get their attention.  Many schools offer a variety of ways for employers to engage with students directly, such as resume critique days or practice interview days.  Hewitt Associates holds a general session on employee benefits, using their industry knowledge and expertise to help students understand a complex subject.  Some companies find even more innovative ways to build their identity.  Enterprise Rent-A-Car sends its recruiting team to help freshmen move into their dorms.  So unleash your creativity and come up with new ways to get your brand in front of students!
  • Tip 4:  Always Put Your Best Foot Forward

    If you're attending a career fair or hosting an information session, you've already expended money and time to get there, so make sure you get the most out of the opportunity.  First, make sure the employees that you send will represent your company well they should be passionate and knowledgeable about your company.  Have literature or collateral available so students can learn more about your company and positions.  Have specific instructions for students available to let them know what they should do next if they are interested in your company.  Take this opportunity to collect resumes and email addresses so you can stay in touch.  Learn more from students about the school, its programs or methods in reaching other students.  Use this time to get to know students in an informal setting, outside of a formal interview.  Your participation in an on-campus event can go a long way in generating student interest, so maximize your investment.

  • Tip 5:  Enlist Your Employees

    Your employees who are alumni of target schools can be excellent sources of referrals. Young alumni in particular have a solid working knowledge about your organization and also understand the nuances of the university.  Armed with that appreciation for both environments, they may know current students and can assess whether they would be a good fit for your entry-level opportunities.  They also can help you relate to students and explain the roles and positions that students can fill.  By involving your alumni, you may be able to find students that you wouldn't normally reach.

  • Tip 6:  Use Your Job Description as a Marketing Tool
    Many job descriptions are written in "industry speak," lack specificity, and can be downright intimidating to students. It is also often one of the first communications that students see from a company.  Use the job description to your advantage by writing it in terms that students can easily understand. Ask new hires from last year's class to help re-write the job description in a student friendly tone with as much detail as you can provide.  Describe what a new hire will actually do, what they can hope to accomplish, and for what purpose.  Since students are looking to grow in their careers, anything you can add about potential career paths will get their attention. If your organization is less well-known, use the job description to further describe your company's culture or its training programs.  The more specific and clear you can be, the more your job posting will stand out and attract the qualified students you want.  

  • Tip 7:  Ask the Right Questions
    Conducting effective interviews is not just getting to know students.  It's about asking the right questions that allow you to collect as much information about the candidates as possible.  One approach, which is often referred to as "Behavioral Interviewing, " is the "S.T.A.R" system.  Determine the Situation and Task for which the applicant was responsible, find out what Action the applicant took and determine the Results of that action.   For example, ask the candidate to describe a situation in which they had to learn something new.  How long did it take? What tools did they use? What was the outcome of that situation?  Remember that past behavior and a good alignment between student responses and your organization's ideal response are the best predictors of future performance. Assessing attitude and cultural fit are also important considerations in the process. Accenture is one organization that takes this very seriously.  They hire students for mock interviews to practice their recruiters' interviewing skills.  This is beneficial for all, since both groups get to hone their skills and network at the same time.
  • Tip 8:  Re-Engage With Your Career Center
    So what do you do if find yourself short on candidates?  Reach out and ask your career center for some help and guidance.  They may be able to help you get the word out about your organization on campus.  They may be able to connect you with student or faculty groups, contact qualified students on your behalf, or simply be on the lookout for students that meet your hiring needs.  Kasey Arceri, University Programs Manager Central Region for Raytheon Company, highly encourages using career centers. Raytheon has a contact person for all of the schools it targets, which helps present an organized front on campuses. "We've really tried to build a partnership with career services," she says.  Career centers can act as your agents on campus and can also give you an overall perspective of how you're doing at their school.
  • Tip 9:  Sell From Start to Finish
    The college recruiting process is a chain of events that connects employers, students and career centers together over the course of 3-4 months.  During this time, you may have done a stellar job at managing your career fair, written an outstanding job description, and run a top-notch interview schedule.  However, if the offers made to students were delayed, or if students were less than impressed by their visits to your headquarters, everything else that you might have done well can be diminished by a few weak activities.  So remember to be vigilant about the end-to-end process, not just about individual events.  Students, like your customers, will value a well-orchestrated and timely process from start to finish.
  • Tip 10:  Planning for the Future
    You've made it to the end of the recruiting season battle-weary, but victorious.  Before you put it all behind you, spend some time reviewing what you have accomplished.  Take time to capture metrics on your hiring by school, document lessons learned along the way, and identify the areas upon which you'd like to improve.  Then, make plans to reconnect with the schools that you recruit at.  Have a focused meeting, preferably face-to-face, where both sides can review and reflect on your program what's working and what's not and begin to set in motion the changes that you'd like to see implemented next season.

John Sumser

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