Posts Tagged ‘alumni’

The Art of University Hiring

December 5, 2007

In my experience in helping to set up the recruiting at local universities in my previous job and then working on doing the same for my current organization, I thought it extremely important to share some insights on this. I have been doing this for 3 years, and it is amazing what some companies do and don’t do right. I was recently answering a question on LinkedIn that prompted this article, so as promised to those who read that response, here is a much more detailed version on recruiting at your local campus.

Fostering the Relationships

This is the first step in the process, and is by far the most important before making any on campus visits. In fostering relationships with the University there are many relationships you need to focus on. I have included a list here along with some suggestions as to how and why.

  1. Deans, Executives, etc. These relationships are merely for introduction purposes. Often when I speak to someone at this level they refer me to others within the university that can help in specific departments. That’s exactly why I contact them! It is very easy to find emails, phone numbers, and such on the school website, and they are very helpful in pointing you in the right direction to find the others in this list of people you want to know. Always send thank you emails as follow-ups for their time and always talk about how much you value their school and the education their students are receiving to prepare them for the careers you wish to provide their students. I can not emphasize this enough.
  2. Career Services– these are the folks that are going to be helping you with several things. They will often times set up your employer account if you cannot do so on your own at their website (if the school has an on-line program for employers, and it’s okay if they need to set it up because it gives you an excuse to talk to someone and start those relationships by phone). They are also responsible for keeping you up-to-date with career fairs, activities, and other events coming up that pertain to you and your organization. When a fair does occur, they can help with job postings, on-campus interviews, and the all important information session (something I think a lot of employers fail to use). I will go into more details on these items in the next section.
  3. Professors – these folks are your biggest help when it comes to getting in touch with certain students. They work hand-in-hand with some of the very students that you wish to speak with, and if you haven’t been on campus before, they can steer you to the right departments of students that will fit well with what you are looking for. Plus, most of them them can lead you to the one professor that can help with the next relationship:
  4. Clubs– On-campus clubs I think are one of the most untapped resources today. One of the problems is that most universities that have them sometimes are not very organized with them. But it is interesting to note that this lack of organization is not due to lack of students. Nor is it due to lack of leadership. Oftentimes it is a lack of activities to keep the club busy and doing things that pertain to the purposes of the club in the first place. But the clubs do exist, and there are things you could be doing to tap into this. More on this later.
  5. School Newspaper – I don’t think I need to go into too many details here, but I will go into details in the next section on your use of advertising and what you should and shouldn’t do.
  6. Alumni– This is usually done through career services, but most schools have a completely separate department for these incredible resources of experienced and degreed professionals. In fact, if you are reading this and are graduated from college and know nothing about your own alumni association for your school, you need to call your Alma Mater and sign up once you are done reading this article.

Give and You Shall Receive

So now that the 6 key relationships are established it is now time to use these relationships to your advantage. You see, a university does not just exist to provide a great educational institution. It also exists to deliver the promises it made to the students when it was recruiting the student: Career placement! So with that being said, here are some of the things you can do with the relationships you have established now:

Deans/Executives

There are some Universities that have dean’s receptions, etc. These are great events! Free food, and free networking to speak with other organizations that will be at the fair and other professors that you are going to want to get to know anyway. There are so many ways to start these relationships. Plus, it gives you a chance to introduce your organization to executives of the school. Sometimes these receptions are before the fair, sometimes they are after the fair, or sometimes they are the night before the fair. Either way, find out about them and attend. It never hurts to network just a little bit more.

Career Services

This is your most important relationship as it can have an effect on all other relationships. What you do and how you handle yourself and your business with career services can make or break the entire relationship. So here are some tips:

  • RegistrationAlways register early for career fairs. Most are available in advance by several months. The earlier you are signed up, the earlier you can post job postings and the cheaper it usually is. Plus if you have been to the fair before, you may be able to request the same location or a different location. In the summer, you want to do this before schools starts so that students can see you are registered to come when they start school.
  • Resume Searches – Once registered, you can gain access to student resumes that may be a great networking resource. THIS SHOULD BE DONE PRIOR TO ANY VISIT ON CAMPUS(can you tell that this last sentence is important?). I can call a student that may not be interested or already graduated or even employed, but that’s okay because MOST of the time they have friends who are still in school or may not have found a position yet because they are 1 semester behind them, etc. Though many schools are not very good at maintaining these databases of resumes, they are still valuable resources to make contacts, and many schools are getting better as technology advances. You will want to know how to use them!
  • On-Campus Interviews– Prior to any fair, just like the registration, plan on being on campus for about a week. Why? Because not only do you need to set up some interview days to meet with students face-to-face, you also want to set up an information session on campus.
  • Information Sessions – These are valuable ways to interact with students and allows you to introduce some students to the company without the “threat” of an interview, if you know what I mean. Plus, if they are married, it allows their spouses to participate and gain insight on the organization as well. In fact, during my resume searches prior to coming to the campus for the fair, if I find students that seem like good matches, I will send a personal invitation to them to come to an info session. I invite them to consider as well any significant other that they feel would be interested in coming and may be part of the decision in the hiring process for them. The great part about this as well is you can have someone in career services send out the invite (something you will want to create to hand out at the fair as well as electronically) so that you can get the buzz already going. Can you see why this is such an important part of your trip?
  • Food, Food, Food – Students love food. Having food at the information session is a great way to attract a greater crowd, and if you order too much, I have yet to be at an information session where I haven’t been able to give the left overs to the Starving Student Association (well okay; I admit, no association really exists, but the remaining students in the halls and such are never sad to accept free pizza and soda, nor are participating students shy at taking home any leftovers to roommates and such).
  • Bring Donuts/Bagels– Okay, I know this could fall into the food category, but these donuts or bagels are for someone completely different. When you have the on-campus interviews, bring donuts and/or bagels to the staff and faculty that morning. (Who does that?) Well that is exactly why you do it. You stand out. The staff talks about your company all day because students walk in and ask about the goodies there. The staff asks too. What great advertising by word of mouth!

Newspapers

This is an important relationship as well. Prior to the fair, advertising is key to let students know you are coming. Also take advantage of the fair packages they have and the commonly known “Career Fair Guide” that is usually separate from the normal paper or comes as an insert. This is a great way to get some exposure and promote your info session to invite all to come and see what you are about. One of the most critical uses of the campus newspaper is the thank you note. What is that you ask? Well, the Friday at the end of the week of the career fair, or the following Monday you want to put a special advertisement in the paper. I find Mondays are better because more and more campuses these days have no classes on Fridays, so you will want to learn about this.

At any rate, it is the “Thank You” Letter. What I have done in the past is had the CEO write a thank you letter to the campus and sign it (actually I usually write the letter that gets approved and signed). This becomes a full page advertisement and just thanks students and faculty for a great career fair this semester (or year) and for welcoming your company as a guest on their campus. You will be surprised the effect this will have on those that read the paper. Again, doing things that stand out and are out of the norm cause the buzz you want and need. And most importantly, it just shows an extra element of professionalism by saying thank you.

Professors

Professors are your advocates with the students. Take them out to lunch. Take them out to dinner. Network, network, network. There are two main reasons for this.

Reason #1 – The first reason is that the professors you want to build relationships are those in the field in which you are seeking for students. Building the network, letting them know who you are, and answering questions they will have about your organization will help in creating a relationship that will extend to the students that they teach. Be prepared to speak about your organization with excitement and enthusiasm. Plus they can give you insider information that will allow you to find the best students. They can make recommendations and make internal announcements to classes filled with students looking for an organization such as your own.

Reason #2– You can do a presentation in their class. Well maybe not you personally, but how about individuals within your organization in the departments you are hiring for? Not only does this expose students to those they would be working with, but your managers, VPs, etc can interact and meet students that they may think are exceptional. There have been a few times where our CEO taught the entire class based on knowledge within our industry that related 100% with the subject for teaching. This may not occur in the week that you are there for the fair, but it may be worth the trip later on.

Clubs

These, as I said, are the most untapped resources of all. Depending on the positions that you have open, finding a specific club can be fairly easy. Career services, professors, and the students themselves can point you in the right direction. usually one of the professors leads the club anyway, so you may have relationships with the right people already. Then there is a student who is in charge of running the club. Keep in mind that some club leaders can change every semester, so you need to stay on top of this resource. This is where those same individuals who could present in class (in case this is not an option) you can now present to students in a club specifically designed around the role you are looking to fill. Obviously you do not want any of these presentations to be a plug for your company. Disseminate information first and establish credibility and value. Do this and the questions later will come about your company. For now, give them value. It’s just like sales: show the customer the value first and they will come to you because they see you as an expert. That’s when it is time to “sell” the company because they will be asking for it. Or invite them to the info session to learn more.

Alumni

And now finally, alumni. Again, if you have not signed up with your alumni association, you are missing out on probably one of the most valuable resources campuses can have. I mean let’s face it. Often times we only see campuses as great places to find young inexperienced people. But if all of our roles only required those minimum requisites, it would be all too easy! So building a relationship with the alumni network is huge. Not only do they have similar services (like they do for undergrads and grads), but some campuses have searchable resumes for alumni and an active job board for alumni to search and always be in touch with their Alma Mater network. If you are not in that network as well, you may be missing out on a higher paying career! Just don’t let your employer know I was the one who told you. Another benefit is that many alumni associations even have local “chapters” so that grads who live near you may have activities and such that you can participate in to build your local network as well.

Conclusion

So there you have it. There may be more to add as I continue to learn and grow in University recruiting. My hope is that this will help you get started. In the future, I may even upload files that I use and sample letters, ads, etc to help facilitate the brainstorming that goes into play to make your visit a profitable one for your organization.

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