Spotlight for Recruiting ProfessionalsFebruary 5, 2014
How important are the people who represent employers during the college recruiting process? Consider that nearly 90 percent of college students pursuing bachelor’s degrees who responded to a recent survey by the Scott Resource Group (SRG) said that their experience with an employer's representatives during the recruitment process has strengthened the students’ interest in the employer.
“Conversely,” says Mary Scott, SRG’s founder and president, “more than 70 percent of students indicated that their experience with an employer’s representatives during the recruitment process has diminished the students’ interest in the employer. This illustrates the power—both positive and negative—an organization’s representatives have on the college recruiting process.”
Students also indicated that recruiters are the most influential forces during their job searches, even more so than classmates (2), previous internships (3), parents (8), faculty members (9), and others.
Scott feels that even though college recruiting is and always will be a “people business,” she says selecting and training representatives to be brand differentiators is one of the most easily overlooked aspects of recruiting.
“Students are so caught up in all the marketing employers generate to try to differentiate themselves, it becomes a blur to the students,” she explains. “[Students] say that every employer looks the same to them. Oddly enough, the more employers use technology, the more it’s truly the people from the firm who differentiate it, for better or worse. That one-step meet-and-greet becomes the organization to each and every student.”
Scott says that, first and foremost, college students want dignity and respect from their interactions with recruiters. This can get “muddied up” in some of the behaviors that representatives unwittingly engage in during career fairs or even interviews—such as using a cell phone to check text messages or respond to an e-mail or voicemail—and represents a lack of respect for the student.
Employers should seek representatives who have enthusiasm for the organization and for getting to know students, and project honesty and candor. Furthermore, training—an important element to having effective representatives—should impart knowledge of the organization and, to some degree, information about the specific positions for which the organization is recruiting.
In their interactions, Scott found that students enjoy interacting with recent alums, not as interviewers, but as individuals who can talk genuinely and candidly about what it’s like to work for an organization in a way that doesn’t seem canned.
“[These and all] representatives should take a personal interest in the student,” Scott says. “Students tend to have an exaggerated sense of how much of a recruiter’s time they are entitled to, but if the response they get to each of their questions is ‘You can find it on our website,’ students wonder why employers are there and it makes recruiters dispensable in the eyes of a lot of students.”
Training—an important element to having effective representatives—should be provided through all economic cycles and should impart knowledge of the organization and information about the specific positions for which the organization is recruiting.
“Training seems to become dispensable whenever organizations try to do more with less,” Scott says. “The first thing that gets cut is training. Some organizations think they can throw some talking points at representatives and they’ve done their job. That’s as far from the truth as you can get.”
The consequences—especially in this age of hyperconnectivity—could be damaging.
“There’s always the very real possibility that negative perceptions will be formed as students talk to each other about their experiences with specific representatives and, therefore, specific companies,” Scott notes. “When you add in the layer of websites, you can truly have a [student’s bad experience with your representatives] go viral.”
But, when done right, putting an emphasis on identifying and training the right representatives throughout all economic cycles can deliver a sizable ROI.
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