Last month, I had the opportunity to present at a workshop for campus recruiters in Toronto. For the core conference there were 39 paid attendees and for the keynote speaker on day two of the conference well over 120 people attended.
Why is this interesting? Campus recruiting as a specialty, even in large organizations, has taken a beating these past three years. Since mid-2000, if your expertise was in finding entry-level talent and filling internships you've probably had a hard time finding a buyer for your talents.
Even though the unemployment rate for four-year college graduates in the U.S. remained low (about 3%) throughout the recession, new grads faced a tough job market. In 2003, only 8% of college grads had secured full-time employment before they graduated. By then, most organizations had severely reduced their campus recruiting programs including less attendance at local college career fairs, lapsed relationships with campus career centers, fewer internships, and less use of campus-specific job boards like JobTRAK (now MonsterTRAK).
This year is looking better for new grads. Among the Class of 2004, 18% had found full-time employment by March2 By all measures, 2005 is looking even better. Data presented during the workshop from two large student surveys conducted this year among North American college and university students each convey a confidence in finding work upon graduation that has not been seen in several years.
While the U.S. Department of Labor continues to file discouraging payroll reports, anecdotally at least, the news from recruiters (corporate and contract) and from recruiting technology suppliers is all good. In both cases, business appears to be double or more what it was this time last year. Likewise, though the recovery is fragile and job growth minimal, substantially more grads expect to find work and, apparently, are finding work upon graduation.
Given the renewed interest in campus recruiting and the increase in positive experiences of seniors and recent grads, 2005 may be the beginning of a more competitive landscape in new grad hiring.
Small and mid-sized companies who often tap new grads as a means to acquiring new ideas and energy at a bargain price will face heavy competition For firms with fewer resources and less brand recognition, fall is the best time to begin recruiting next year's crop of grads.
These tips will help you get ahead of the pack in this stiff market.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, however, these initiatives are likely reap the greatest returns for time-pressed small and mid-sized organizations.
1 Experience, Inc poll of 2,500 graduating college students across 431 colleges and universities. See www.experience.com
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