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Recruiting On College Campuses

The National Association of Colleges and Employers shares tips on finding young talent at universities.

TMJ:  Tell me about Gen Xers compared to the latest sub-group, the “Millennials.”

Mimi Collins:  Generation Xers are more immediate, want more choices, don’t like to go through long processes and they want answers now. But Generation X is pretty much already out there in the work force. Millennials consist of those individuals born after 1981, and many are still just beginning to enter the work force. They have highly-involved parents who have helped them to succeed. Both Generation X and Millennials want the same things generations before them wanted in a job—they want to enjoy what they do and they want challenges. Money is further down the list.


How should employers begin establishing contacts on college campuses?

What Do New College Graduates
Look for in an Employer?

  1. Job security
  2. Opportunity for advancement
  3. High starting salary
  4. Location of the job
  5. Quality of insurance/benefits package

Source: NACE 2009 Student Survey, www.nace.org

The first thing to do is contact the Career Services Office. They will help coordinate a business owner’s efforts and help pave the way to working with other offices. Once you’ve contacted the Career Services Office, you need to examine what type of information and services they offer. Some questions to ask include how to post job openings and accept resumes, how to set up interviews, how to publicize your visit and how to identify target student groups, among others.


When is the best time for an employer to conduct on-campus recruiting?

Traditionally, on-campus recruiting takes place in the fall and the spring, but the earlier you begin interviewing students, the better. If you wait for the spring, there may not be many students available, since most make their decision early in the school year.


What is the main purpose of on-campus interviewing?

You are going to the best source for new college graduates. This has been done for so many years, that it has become a science for many companies. And if everyone else is on campus and you are not, how will they know about you? Having a campus presence is the most effective means to attract new graduates.


What are the key steps to conducting a college interview?

First of all, do your prep work up front. Read the student’s resume before the interview and decide what are the best areas to probe. When you meet the candidate, try to put them at ease with some small talk. Spend time learning about the candidate so you can decide if you will want to conduct a second interview. Sell your company to them. Paint a realistic picture of the organization and tell the candidate what you can do for them. Close with follow-up information. What is the next step? Tell the candidate what is going on and when they can expect to hear from you next. Don’t leave the candidate in the dark. Finally, after the candidate has left the interview, take a few notes about the person. This will help you remember him or her after you’ve returned to the office.


Should a company offer an internship?

Internships are very important as feeders to a company’s workforce. They are a good source of new hires when the economy is tight. Internships are also a good way to test-drive job candidates. It is so much easier to hire an intern for a short amount of time, than to hire someone full time, train them, give them benefits and then have to let them go.


What Benefits Does A
New Graduate Look For?

  1. Medical insurance
  2. Annual salary increases
  3. 401(k) retirement plan
  4. Dental insurance
  5. Pension plan

Source: NACE 2009 Student Survey, www.nace.org

What are the other advantages of offering internships?

Students who complete internships are more likely to be satisfied with and stay at their jobs, regardless of whether the internship was with that particular company or not. We check at the one-year and five-year marks, and the retention is higher among people who have done internships than those who haven’t. That’s an important point for employers. An employer who can use an internship to develop a relationship with a top student before he or she enters the job market “scoops” the competition for talent.


What’s your feeling on unpaid internships?

Employers who are serious about college recruiting should pay their interns. If you want to find people who are potential long-term employees, you want the best pool of candidates. You shouldn’t eliminate people who do not want or cannot afford to work all summer for free.


What are some tips for employers to reach students on social media?

That’s very tough. Our research shows that students understand that employers are going to try to meet up with them in social media, but about half are not happy about it. That said, students are much more aware of what they’re putting online and the level of appropriateness of their photos and profiles. The level of naivete that once existed is no longer the case.


How do students feel about online and social network recruiting?

We don’t have a whole lot of data on this, but social media is definitely the way things are going. Recruiting is a very high-touch function. Students are keenly aware of the difference between, high-touch and high-tech, and they’re not impressed by high-tech. They’ve grown up with it all. They’re keenly aware of when employers are trying to use technology to treat them like less than the individuals they see themselves to be.


So face-to-face campus visits are still the primary way to see a candidate?

Definitely. That still seems to be the most effective. But an internship program is the same thing. It’s a face-to-face personal interaction, so those type of high touch activities are probably the most effective. In a poor economy, employers are not going to be able to go to as many campuses or spend as much time there. They’re going to have to use technology to reach out to people, and that’s just the way it is. But over the long haul, high touch is important.

Editor’s Note: The above information was gathered based on an interview with Mimi Collins, communications director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). For more information about NACE, visit www.naceweb.org

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