Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
To effectively handle relationships with employers, Wake Forest University created two sub-teams within employer relations that address outreach and employer experience. The university implemented this structure in early 2012 to facilitate employer interactions with its students.
“Because we do not have a location or size advantage, we wanted to ensure that employers that recruit would have one central contact for the university and find their recruiting experience simple, productive, and even enjoyable,” says Lisa Simmons, associate director, employer experience. “We are all about relationships.”
The two distinct teams that handle employer relations at Wake Forest are:
- Outreach team—This team is primarily responsible for off-campus events and developing new business. For example, the outreach team takes students to larger cities within Wake Forest’s first-destination footprint (Atlanta; Charlotte; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and San Francisco) for networking events and employer on-site visits (i.e. career treks and job shadowing).
- Experience team—This team is responsible for a majority of the on-campus activity. Account managers act as liaisons between Wake Forest and the employer, and strive to know about their assigned organizations and their hiring needs, and make recruiting as seamless as possible. They also promote the organization to various Wake Forest constituents across the university.
Simmons says the separation of teams and responsibilities allows for specialization.
“The outreach team is free to focus on developing new business and taking students to the market, while the experience team is engaged with organizations that have committed to recruiting students at Wake Forest, either on campus or virtually,” she explains. “We are really set up to be a sales/engagement funnel of sorts.”
From the employer perspective, Simmons says the career center’s structure is a positive because it has become a one-stop shop for talent, both off and on campus.
“We are designed to be more employer facing, while our career coaches are primarily student facing,” she notes. “We work together to ensure that we provide the best possible service to employers. Our success is reflected in our recruiting satisfaction surveys and the recruiters who continuously tell us what a pleasure it is to work with us and visit campus.”
Simmons offers several tips for effectively creating a similar employer relations team structure:
- Secure support from the top down—Wake Forest University was fortunate to have visionary leadership to support this model.
- Include team members who take “ownership” and have a strong work ethic—They must handle all the details—including the “little things”—when it comes to your recruiters. Having educated and committed professionals in your employer relations area who have experience in the job market is a key to success.
“Another thing is that employer relations needs internal advocates to promote the good work that is done,” Simmons adds. “Some of our effort is out front, such as career fairs, city events, and more. However, most of our good work involves one-on-one relationships between students and recruiters that we facilitate behind the scenes.”
She points out that more than 200 organizations engage Wake Forest on campus annually and thousands of students are involved in these efforts.
“Yet, aside from designated parking for employers, room reservations, and a busy recruiter area, there isn’t much noticeable evidence of our work day to day,” Simmons says. “I would argue that it should be that way. The impact of our work is revealed in our stories of student success.”