Are You Ready? Employers Find College Talent Before Senior Year

Jobless Recent GradEach year, Dr. Phil Gardner at Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute surveys thousands of companies to scope the employment landscape for college grads.

The results of a recent survey is a mixed bag, but mostly favorable: college hiring is up overall by 4%.

The interesting thing that jumped out at me about the report, is the need for college students to begin their career prep experience from the first day on campus.

Here’s what the survey said, and what you can do to get ready, starting in your freshman year:

Who Does Your School Work With?

Survey Said: Many schools have “partner companies” who recruit for talent from the school.

Your Action Item: Identify your school’s employer partnerships, and who’s at the table when they talk.

The primary reasons for these partnerships are to:

  • get access to talent early in a student’s career
  • create visibility for their brand
  • gain access to diverse talent

Hmmmmm, gain access to talent early in a student’s career?

That means the timeline is moving up. Companies may be looking for specific skill sets, academic attributes or areas of expertise earlier in the academic cycle. They may talk to your professors, deans, or career center to scout future top talent.

  • 60% of these relationships involve career centers… so ensure the career center is part of your strategy
  • Nearly 40% of companies want to see faculty or college deans involved in the relationships (your faculty team can be a critical component of your career search process)

Go Where the Hiring Happens

Survey Said: Campus oriented internships and career fairs are the top two recruiting strategies for companies.

Your Action Item: Plug in to the career services your school offers.

Know what’s available to you in terms of resources, education, internship opportunities. Get to know the staff, attend events. Be proactive to let them know who you are, what you offer, and what you are interested in.

One student told me, “The career center is a great resource, but only if you go to them. They won’t come looking for you!”

Network, Network, Network

Survey Said: Faculty and alumni referrals are two other top recruiting strategies.

Your Action Item: Build your network: on campus and off!

Build relationships with your college faculty, other students, other students’ parents. Alumni groups, fraternity/sorority organizations, college clubs, college business partners, and your internship or work connections also count in your relationship map.

Create and nurture your online presence. I’m always surprised when I meet college students without a LinkedIn profile. Make this a priority immediately, and build on it throughout your academic career. (And yes, it’s OK to link your parents in.)

Internships = Jobs

Survey Said: Internships are now the hiring source of choice.

Your Action Item: Get an internship. Or two. Or three.

The MSU study shows that 71% of employers indicated they would be seeking interns and co-ops during the school year. Up to half of these internships convert into full-time offers of employment.

In fact, an internship each summer isn’t a bad idea if you can make that happen. Start looking in your freshman year for the work experiences that will position you to compete.

Summer After Graduation is Too Late

Survey Said: 41% of employers want to wrap up their hiring during the first term of your senior year.

Your Action Item: Don’t wait until your senior year to get started.

A recent survey said the number one thing recent grads would have done differently, was “start earlier.”

It sounds to me that the career preparation process is as much a part of being a college student as going to class and writing papers. In a way, we always knew that. But these are competitive times, and today’s college student needs to be much more savvy about preparing for that transition from academics to career.

Start early, capitalize on the opportunities your campus offers, build relationships, and network. It’s much easier to do that than to play “catch up” when you are three or four years into college.

If you’ve got wisdom to share with current college students about the career search process, leave a comment below!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!

LeaAbout the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. She blogs at Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter, too.

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