There's a sea change coming in college recruiting and, surprisingly enough, it's not one that is brought about by new technology. It's simply a result of the commonsense application by more and more employers of an old fisherman's rule: fish where the fish are. It saves time, wear and tear, and you get much better results. It's not a solution for everyone, but if you're tired of making the same old trips to the same old colleges and seeing the same young pale faces year after year, it might be just the right strategy for you.

I'm excited about this idea because it's going to be one of the things we'll be talking about during the talent panel that I'm joining on Tuesday morning in Chicago as part of Inc.'s Fast Growth Tour. The Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Tech is one of the main sponsors of this event. For my two cents, I'm going to be focusing on the dramatic shifts which are now taking place in terms of where the smartest employers are starting to look for their new technical talent. It's not where you might expect and it's certainly not the way they've done business in the past.

I've spent a large part of the last year in my new role as Executive Director of Kaplan learning about and working with groups of highly motivated and well-trained student engineers, computer scientists and big data specialists who are getting ready to graduate and enter the workforce. An amazingly large percentage of these students are the first in their families to attend college and they're just as committed, hardworking and excited about the opportunities ahead of them as you might expect. And guess what? When they get their first critical (and life-changing job), they stick around. They're not job hoppers or kids with one foot out the door looking for their next gig. You get double bang for your buck--better recruitment and far stronger and longer retention.

The big difference (and their particular appeal apart from strong technical chops) is their diversity and for the tech students at IIT that's a key part of what's driving the new changes we're seeing on campus. Every employer I have talked to in the past 5 years (while I was running 1871) says they desperately want diverse technical talent and then they start whining that it's just so hard to find. I guess it's just a matter of knowing where you should be looking. And until these guys wake up, they're absolutely right to be complaining because they're not going to get any better or different results if they keep doing the same old stuff and looking in the same old places. They need to find a better place to fish.

The employers who are already ahead of the pack are making a serious and substantial change and a real commitment to refocusing their efforts and attention on those schools and universities whose students/graduates can help them meet their growing need for diverse talent across all the critical dimensions--gender, race, geography, etc.--and the institutions which can provide that essential help now. They have finally figured out that the talent they need to fill the jobs of the future isn't going to be found in the places they've looked in the past.

We're going to get further into this conversation during the panel and cover other issues as well around company culture and how to make sure that you spend some time "re-recruiting" your best existing employees so they'll stick around to share their experience and expertise and to give a helping hand to all the newbies. Hope to see you on the Fast Track in Chicago on Tuesday. 

Published on: May 20, 2019
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