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Recruiters Look to Be Big Man on Campus

October 15, 2010
Related Topics: Basic Skills Training, Candidate Sourcing, Strategic Planning, Featured Article

Although the job market may still be weak, hundreds of companies will start sending recruiters to campus this fall in search of fresh talent. But will these companies be putting their best face forward?

That’s a critical question, because recruiting success often rests on the shoulders of campus representatives: In a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly 42 percent of students said their impression of a campus recruiter is the No. 1 influence on their perception of the company.

That’s why Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which hires 9,000 graduates a year into its management-training program, selects its recruiters with care. To ensure that recruiters have a deep understanding of company values, Enterprise picks them based on their passion and knowledge of the business. A three-day program trains them in determining talent needs, developing hiring plans, and interviewing and building personal relationships with candidates.

“Our recruiters can talk about the business side with enthusiasm,” says Marie Artim, assistant vice president of recruiting. “They are selected for their leadership, maturity and professionalism; they’re not just order takers.”

Although companies are relying more than ever on e-recruiting through their websites and social networks like Facebook, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. “As companies hone in on return on investment, they may focus on fewer schools for campus visits,” says Jeffrey Rice, executive director of the career management office at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “But if a company’s not present on campus, they’re already at a disadvantage.” He encourages employers to send recruiters who are diverse in ethnicity, gender and experiences.

The worst mistake a company can make, Rice says, is sending people to campus who are unprepared. “At a school like ours, the day is fully orchestrated for recruiters,” he adds. “They receive everything from valet parking to meeting space to scheduling help. There is nothing on our side that would prevent them from having a productive day. Their downfall comes when the recruiter has not been fully trained to conduct interviews.”

General Electric Co., which hires 800 to 1,000 students each year from about 40 schools, uses teams of 10 to 30 recruiters to build its brand on campus. Interns and co-op students supplement their efforts during campus career fairs. “The people we send to campus are really the key,” says Steve Canale, manager of global recruiting and staffing. “There is much rigor around creating the image of the company because students believe what they hear from other students” who have met with our recruiters. GE educates campus representatives about opportunities in various divisions and ensures that they have a well-rounded overview of the company. “We subtly provide them with an ‘elevator speech,’ ” Canale says.

IBM Corp. has a dedicated college recruiting staff of 10, along with dozens of volunteers from business units who undergo interview training. Teams composed of managers, executives and new hires visit about 100 colleges a year, and whenever possible, they return to their alma maters.

“Alumni have a passion for their schools and an immediate bond with students,” says Eletta Kershaw, university recruiting program manager. Each job candidate is assigned a “buddy,” an IBM employee who recently went through the company’s recruitment process and is expected to develop a personal relationship with the student. “Although we have gotten more involved with social media,” Kershaw says, “nothing replaces that direct communication.”

Workforce Management, September 2010, p. 12 -- Subscribe Now!

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