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It’s graduation season for Utah’s colleges and universities, and that means thousands of young Utahns will soon embark on their careers. In addition to the completion of their studies, graduation often marks the end of a long job-hunting process; students learn to craft résumés and prep for interviews, while companies cultivate relationships on campuses across the state, looking to snag the best and brightest graduates. In these pages, we offer suggestions to help companies recruit and—more importantly—retain the talent they need to succeed and grow. We also take a look at the overall employment picture for employers and graduates alike.
Winning on Campus
Attract College Students to your Company with These Recruiting Techniques
By Adva Biton
Recruiting talent on college campuses has gone beyond setting up a table at a local career fair. While the mass engagement fairs can bring is important, a small- to mid-size company wanting to get its name amongst students needs to be more creative and strategic. Many companies have started to realize that the earlier they build brand recognition with students, the better. Waiting until students are close to graduation to reach out to them may be too late. Here are some ways to get the up-and-coming talent pool to engage with a company’s vision, opportunities and corporate culture:
There’s no reason to wait for career fairs to interact with local universities. Businesses can call a university’s career center to get their foot in the door and begin a relationship. Career centers can point companies toward relevant student organizations and faculty, events and scheduled informational sessions, as well as offer strategy tips.
“Get to know the staff and the variety of resources at the career centers on campus. That is certainly the one-stop shop for employers trying to make connection with student clubs, organizations and classrooms in a more targeted way,” says Brian Burton, assistant director for employer engagement at the University of Utah.
“If you find the right clubs with the talent you’re trying to recruit, there are plenty of opportunities for you to engage,” adds Scott Pulsipher, president and COO of Needle, a technology and service platform company dedicated
to customer engagement. “You get maybe 40, 50 students engaging with those clubs that you can present your business to.”
Pulsipher also recommends sponsoring club events, seminars and lectures as a way to introduce your company as a possible career path to students. Event sponsorships can cost between $500 and $5,000, but it’s a good way to make your business highly visible to its target talent pool. Sponsor only the most pertinent events to get the most bang for your investment buck.
If your company has any local alumni, Burton also advocates leveraging that relationship. Instead of sending recruiters alone to fairs or events, alumni can act as a liaison between the company and the students. “That alumni connection is really valuable,” he says. “It allows a student to more easily see themselves transitioning into that company.”
Think Long Term
Don’t reach out to students only when you have an immediate hiring need. If you have the time and manpower, consider sending a company representative to a lecture or seminar to educate students about the work your company is doing in its field. Send an employee to a résumé or cover letter workshop. It’s not necessarily selling your business or actively recruiting, but rather educating students while presenting your company as a source of mentorship and knowledge.
“We aren’t just there for recruiting,” says Pulsipher. “We can offer recruiting advice, but also professional/personal life balance, product management [and] problem-solving advice. You do it to help students and to keep your brand in their mind.”
Pulsipher also says Needle has between two and five internships open for students or recent grads, even when the company doesn’t have any immediate openings. “It gives an opportunity for students to learn,” he says.
Social Media Strategies
Social media is a great tool, but companies should be strategic about online campaigns.
“We’ve looked at some data nationally and at our institution that says that students like a separation between job searching, internship opportunities and their social lives,” says Burton. “They don’t like to see a lot of job postings on their Facebook or Twitter feed. The only exception is LinkedIn. It’s not to say that employers shouldn’t try that, but don’t overdo it.”