Are Companies Actually Sourcing Candidates through Your Career Center?
According to Josh Bersin, Principal & Founder of Bersin Research, companies spend around 3x more on recruiting compared to employee training (making it approximately a $420 billion market). Several billion of that is spent on job advertising alone (Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and others), but even after that money is spent, it stills costs $4,000 on average to progress a candidate from resume submission to final interviews. That’s a high price to pay, and employers are constantly looking for creative ways to locate, attract, and ultimately retain top talent.
In the past, employers have relied on traditional recruitment strategies, such as company websites or online job boards, career fairs, and social outreach (e.g., LinkedIn InMail). But as employers are flooded with an ever-growing number of applications, and pressure to match the right person to the right role mounts (having 20-24% of Americans changing job every year is very expensive for companies), resumes and behavioral interviews aren’t measuring up for recruiters trying to piece together a complete picture of a candidate’s skills, strengths, and experiences.
In April 2018, we hosted a panel of local employers at the Cleveland Liberal Arts Leadership Summit. The local employer panel gave attendees a chance to talk to leaders from the Cleveland Indians, Venture for America, Cleveland Scene magazine, Thompson Hine LLC, and GOJO Industries – many of whom graduated with liberal arts degrees – about the skills and experiences they expect from interns and college graduates, how universities can do a better job of preparing college upperclassmen, and the back channels they pursue to source talent. It turns out that most of these companies aren’t actually sourcing candidates through universities’ career centers. So, if they’re not finding top talent through the career center, where are they reaching these students?
Employers are Sourcing Candidates from Places You Might Not Expect
- Professors/Faculty Members
Professors/faculty members are often the individuals with the closest relationships to students on campus, so reaching out to them (and not Career Services) for referrals gives an employer a more comprehensive account of a student. For example, an employer may ask students during an interview: “What class best prepared you for this position?” Then, before the next recruiting cycle, the employer could do some quick research to find out who teaches that class and how to get ahold of them for a referral.
- Clubs, Greek Life, and Other Extracurriculars
Especially in smaller organizations, it’s common to focus recruiting efforts on employees’ alma maters. Young alumni who still maintain connections with campus leaders can play a big role in making referrals to their hiring managers. A young alum may know exactly which campus clubs and activities would position a student well for the role, and by tapping into their network, can easily obtain names of students in key leadership positions.
- Private, Online Networks
Companies with robust recruiting systems typically pair candidates who earn a first-round interview with a young alum at the company to serve as their buddy and prepare them for the interview process. With private, online networks like Wisr, these young alumni can connect with and mentor candidates even before the application process officially begins. For example, if an employer records students whom they met during a recent career fair, they could pair the student with an application buddy to ensure quality applications are submitted from target candidates (or weed out any students who wouldn’t be a good fit).
- In the Classroom
Career services may offer great programming, but students are not required to participate. Employers who find ways to meet students where they are required to be — in the classroom — can boost their on-campus visibility and brand while building relationships early with prospective candidates. It’s also a great way to get in front of students who may have the necessary skills for a position, but wouldn’t necessarily think of a career in the industry. For example, there are several in-demand career paths that can stem from journalism or English degrees, but these students may not know to consider non-media companies or roles in public relations, marketing, and corporate communications. How do employers gain access? Experiential learning is a hot topic in higher ed. Employers offering to allow students to do a semester-long research project on an aspect of their organization get the benefit of an outsider’s perspective on how they can improve, building a relationship with faculty and university staff, and, perhaps most importantly, get to witness students demonstrating their skills in action.