Whilst reading an article with advice for students on how to plan ahead for life after college, it got me thinking about how many businesses are aligning their talent acquisition strategies with the advice students are receiving. Statistics taken from a survey run by LinkedIn show that compared to non-students, many students and recent graduates value career progression and development over compensation. This demonstrates that even at a young age, there is a real opportunity for businesses to provide career advice and support to students to help them understand the wealth of opportunities and industry sectors that are available. This in turn allows organisations to proactively build their talent pool through university recruiting initiatives before students are even graduating.
It seems that life in school, and then college or university, was always about putting off the inevitable “what do you want to do when you grow up” decision. If the students of today are now starting to be more proactive about their future career and planning well beyond which college or university they want to attend, surely more businesses need to address this – not just from a recruitment angle but also from a corporate social responsibility (CSR) perspective.
Students are advised to prepare by visiting career services offices, so this would be one of the first points of contact that any business can make. Compared to just a few years ago, career services within universities are far more engaged with local organisations. Many of them have programmes developed to partner with local businesses and promote the local economy. The more companies that take part in this initiative, the better for both them and the students.
Often times when we think of career services, universities come to mind. With students thinking about career choices and internships much earlier in the process now, it’s essential to get involved with secondary schools' career departments. A growing concern in the UK: Many colleges and universities are currently cutting back funding and resources for career services. The more recruitment organisations can get involved and prove the ROI of these necessary services, the better shot they have at continuing efforts. Whilst the skills learned during schooling are without a doubt essential, help with finding a career path or apprenticeship can often be just as important.
Whilst it may seem obvious at this point in the economy that internships and apprenticeships are not only beneficial to students but help secure engaged talent for companies, many organisations still don’t have a formal placement programme in place. It's growing in the UK, but the number of available apprenticeships is still not where it should be.
The talent acquisition team will lead some of these initiatives, but it is vital to get buy-in and involvement from all levels of your organisation. Business-critical employees can often offer the best advice and can speak to the positions with passion and experience. Make sure these individuals have a direct relationship with career services departments and are available to attend career fairs, networking events and conduct presentations on campus.
Whilst the Microsofts and the Oracles of the world may not necessarily struggle to attract talent, smaller or lesser-known businesses may really benefit from doing more to enhance their brand through university partnerships. There many ways that an employer can pitch themselves to their student audience at little or no cost while making a big impact. Equally, for businesses in niche sectors, this can be a good way to broadcast to a wide audience and spread the word about what they do.
One university embracing this "open to all students" (rather than just final year students and graduates) approach is Leeds Beckett. They run an annual jobs and employability event where businesses are invited to join them and talk about their sectors and projects. The fact that it is open to the whole campus rather than just the final year students and graduates is a good demonstration of the fact that they recognise the need to start planning early and they have the means to help all of their students when it comes to careers guidance.
Mike is an account manager at WilsonHCG. He has a passion for modern languages, specifically Spanish and French, and started out his recruitment career working at a specialist agency for languages prior to moving into the RPO space. With experience in multiple industry sectors, Mike has recruited at most levels, from graduate and apprentice levels to senior executives. Outside of work, Mike has a young family and plays squash in his local county leagues.