Experience, Inc. recently met with a panel of thought leaders in career services. As a response to our “Tips for Career Services from Recruiters,” we asked them to share their best advice for employers collaborating with university career centers.
Below, we’ve highlighted these distinguished Career Services Professionals’ best 10 suggestions for working more effectively and harmoniously with university career services (and getting the right students for the job!)
Top 10 Tips
1. Help career services prepare students.
Many university career offices provide programs for employers to help shape students into young professionals. Consider asking colleges about opportunities to assist with student workshops, mock interviews, or resume reviews. You might even suggest a topic that has broad appeal, such as salary negotiation. Our panelists felt strongly that volunteering was a great way to establish brand presence on campus and grow students into strong candidates.
2. Bring alumni or peers to represent the company, not the CEO.
Steve Jobs might make an appealing pitchman for his company, but our panel mentioned that many times executives and other high-ranking company representatives are unrelatable and even intimidating for students. Employees who have a fresh perspective on the college-to-career transition are approachable and often anticipate topics of interest. Recent alumni make even more effective ambassadors, whether or not they are formally part of the recruiting team.
3. Top students want to know what it’s like to work for your company.
Surveys (including ours) indicate that top performing students are increasingly interested in long-term career prospects within an organization. Consequently, career services offices have reported demand for more focus on company culture, advancement opportunity, and work-life balance. Presenting a complete portrayal of the workplace – including trade-offs – is a valuable and important part of attracting and retaining great future employees.
4. Showcase diversity at every step.
Sometimes, recruiters rely too heavily on websites and print materials to convey a diverse culture. Real world indicators of this message stick with students. They notice when company events and interactions reveal a varied and welcoming population. “Don’t bring in a group of people with identical backgrounds,” says one panelist, “especially if you’re trying to engage a diverse pool of individuals.”
5. Host or sponsor unique student events.
The career services professionals in our discussion listed a number of one-of-a-kind events that they’ve worked with employers to develop to great effect. From in-class presentations to shadowing days, there are many opportunities to work with career services and stand out on campus. And be careful about repeating the same PowerPoint presentation year after year; as one career services professional pleads, “please, please, please don’t just read the students your webpage.”
Some career services offices collaborate with employers and appropriate faculty or student groups to effectively engage career-oriented students. Alumni events are always popular. Finally, competitions, when appropriate, are also exciting tools for finding and encouraging talented students, whether they are business cases, design projects, or anything in between.
6. Share your success stories and feedback.
All too often, contact ceases after recruiting season(s). Our panelists agreed, however, that word of mouth was the best possible tool for recruitment, and success stories should be shared. If you’re pleased (or displeased) with the quality of students or a specific student hired, reach out and share! Career services professionals can use your comments to engage students on your behalf or create new programming.
Many career services offices also work diligently to track and maintain employment outcomes, so your timely update and feedback may be more appreciated than you might anticipate. If career services can keep track of alumni placement they may be reaching out to your company for popular events, like alumni employment panels, too.
7. Follow up with students and/or career services.
Students polled about their frustrations with the recruiting process usually list unresponsive employers at the top, especially if the silence comes after an initial response or interview. Applicant limbo and lack of feedback can also be difficult for career services to interpret as they help students work toward better outcomes.
While it is often impossible to respond to each application individually, eRecruiting allows recruiters to easily update students on the status of their candidacy. Those status updates are also shared with career services offices and are very much appreciated. (If you need help using this tool, contact Experience and we will be happy to walk you through.)
8. Don’t work around career services.
Student groups and faculty are useful partners in the campus branding and recruitment process, but working with them to the exclusion of career services can lead to a host of issues. Recruiters should always reach out and include career services in these collaborations, and if possible, first. University career professionals strive to help employers have the best possible campus recruiting experience. Their teams can usually ensure a larger and higher quality candidate pool, with the opportunity to create a lasting professional relationship.
9. Avoid inappropriate recruiting methods.
This is an unusual problem, but one that many of our career services professionals admit they have dealt with on occasion: be sure that your recruiting methods are appropriate. In other words, serving alcoholic beverages to students (especially underage students), taking students to inappropriate venues, or other questionable activity may jeopardize your ability to recruit on selective campuses. When in doubt, reflect on recent college athletic recruiting scandals. If it’s not okay for campus football stars, it’s probably not acceptable for budding consultants, accountants, or engineers either.
10. Be patient and continue to be present.
A powerful on-campus brand takes time to cultivate. “One year does not build a brand,” notes a panelist, adding that continued presence makes a huge difference. Work on building relationships, finding mutually beneficial events, and giving interns and new hires a great workplace experience. The resulting word of mouth will pay off, but requires time to measure.
Want to share your thoughts on this article? Join the conversation on our College Recruiting Consortium.