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March 31, 2009

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With unemployment at an all time low and fewer entrants into today's work force, recruiting candidates for openings is as challenging as ever. Some companies are going to extremes to attract students early in their college careers. One company even helps college freshman move into their campus dorms to establish a relationship with them for later recruiting. So, how do you compete for candidates in such a competitive time and against such aggressive recruiting tactics?

There's no simple answer, but one of the ways to combat the problem is to utilize all the resources you have. In recruiting entry level candidates for openings, target colleges. Attending a career fair once a year just isn't enough in today's market. You must network with career centers, college professors, clubs, and associations. Career centers vary in what services they offer. Some will only put your position posting in a binder in the office where students must come in and look for it. Others offer a full line of services that include posting, job lines, online resume access, hotlinking to home pages, and resume referral services. If you take the time to get to know the people in the career centers, they are a solid resource in referring candidates to your company - but you have to take the time to get to know them and share information.

Most universities welcome companies to serve as a "teaching tool" in the classroom. Be sure to tailor your presentation to what "fits" the class and audience. If you are speaking to a class of freshman, coach them on how to prepare for their career search and get them thinking about the industry your company does business in or how to evaluate opportunities in the market. If you are speaking to a class of graduating seniors, tailor your presentation to what they have learned and to what they are looking for in their career search. Be careful not to use a speaking invitation as a 30 minute "advertisement" for your company. Being able to have an alumni from the school attend the career fair or speak to a class or club goes even further to develop the relationship. Having a well developed, and publicized, internship program is a great way to attract students to your company. Students today are clamoring for internships. They want the experience and are eager to learn. It allows both parties to see if the right "fit" is there upon graduation. A successful internship program is a great recruiting tool.

The largest growing source of candidates is the Internet. Be sure to do your research though. There are more and more online services being marketed to recruiters. Some are free, some you pay for. Some are worth it, some are not. One of the keys is to find out how they build and maintain their resume database. Many colleges have their own online services through the career centers, but some outsource to third parties like JobTrak, Crimson-Solutions, or ResumeExpert. You must think about whom your audience is and how to reach them. Today, 75% of our candidates come from the Internet (30%) and colleges (career fairs 23%, postings 22%).

One last resource right at your fingertips is your own employees. Offer a referral cash bonus to your employees. They know what it takes to do the job well and can talk to acquaintances about it. Also, most employees are not going to refer someone to their company unless they feel that it will reflect well on them and that the person, if hired, will do a good job. Be sure to publicize your referral program throughout the organization so that everyone knows how it works.

As the market changes in the new century, so will the recruiting tactics. Continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the resources you use, in cost, as well as in hiring numbers.

Amy C. Taber
Diversity and Legal Specialist
C.H. Robinson Worldwide
MBA, Human Resources
B.S., Retail Merchandising
Over 9 years experience in recruiting and management

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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