Spotlight for Career Services Professionals, August 31, 2011
An effective employer relations program has four key steps, according to Christian Garcia, director of the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center and a presenter at the NACE 2011 Conference on the topic of business development strategies for employer relations programs. The steps are:
- Discover—Conduct an institutional analysis to see what is unique to your campus and its student body. A SWOT analysis will identify your strengths and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and turn your weaknesses into opportunities. Engaging institutional research, your schools and colleges, and employers in in-depth conversations will provide valuable data and information. By doing this analysis and research, you will be able to determine your benchmarks. In addition to doing internal analyses, analyze employers to see which ones you have relationships with, which you would like to “recruit,” and if there are any patterns or gaps in your employer relations.
- Plan—When setting programming and events, consider your academic and your employers’ recruiting calendars. Build in flexibility and leverage your downtime. Keep in mind that it’s not all about “hard” recruiting; plan to have employers come to campus for “soft” recruiting events, such as mock interview and resume critique days. Ask employers to share best practices they’ve encountered at other schools and find ways to tailor them to your campus.
- Implement—Take your efforts to market by using social media and other low-cost, high-impact techniques. Also, use events and networking platforms, and institute an employer advisory board to provide feedback and guidance. Throughout this process, make sure to build personal relationships—this is one of the main reasons employers keep coming back to campus!
- Measure and revise—Find the right metrics or key performance indicators, and develop processes to automate the data-collection process early on. Listen to the metrics: Use them to decide which efforts to develop, which efforts are most effective, and which efforts need to be abandoned. This last point is important, as oftentimes we hang on to “sacred cows” that yield little, if any, results. Then plan and implement change. Finally, make sure to report your efforts.
“There are two important things to keep in mind,” Garcia adds. “First, most of your time and effort should be spent in the ‘Discover’ phase. When done right, the remaining steps will become much easier. Also, the four phases are cyclical. When you get to the ‘Measure and Revise’ phase, it will be necessary to go back to the ‘Plan’ and ‘Implement’ phases to tweak your plan based on your findings.”