Career Counseling for College Students: Where is HR?

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A note from a reader who does career counseling for college students. He actually wants to help his students find jobs and he tries to work with HR and recruiters to no avail. Any advice?

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Laurie, I sit on the other side of the career aisle. I do career counseling for college students, which I guess makes me a “coach.” I’m wondering if you and your readers who specialize in recruiting have advice for me about how best to contact HR departments in an attempt to convince them to participate in either on-campus recruiting, or in off-campus interview events held in the employer’s city.

There are the obvious challenges in actually reaching a human being in HR to talk to on the phone or getting an email address other than “HR@companyXYZ.com.”

I have used alumni connections, personal connections, LinkedIn, etc. but the success ratio in terms of actually corresponding with someone in HR is probably 1 out of 100 contacts by phone AND email. That’s when the other challenges begin.

Assuming they are hiring and have appropriate positions for an entry level population:

  1. “This event doesn’t fit our recruiting cycle” (Fair enough)
  2. “We only recruit at the Ivy League/area schools” (This strikes me as myopic. Why wouldn’t you participate if I can provide equal or better quality candidates who are interested in the company, position and location? I do understand that the concept of “adding more schools to our recruiting efforts” = more work to some people.)
  3. “Our recruiting budget won’t allow us to participate” (Okay, everyone’s budget has been cut lately, but our programs are either free or reasonably low cost — less than the cost of sending one recruiter to a job fair overnight, or attending a SHRM conference — AND we do all the advertising and recruiting for you.)
  4. “We don’t do job fairs.” (Ah, I’m not soliciting you for a job fair/cattle-call. I’m asking you to post your job with us, have us solicit and collect resumes from qualified, appropriate candidates for you to select to do an interview at their own expense in your city.)
  5. No reason given/Deafening Silence (Yes, I realize that fielding phone calls and emails from people soliciting you is a pain. I get them on a regular basis in my job, but I return the call (professional courtesy) AND either participate or explain why I’m not interested. I realize that may make me something of an outlier.)

I try to anticipate the above reactions in a short email or phone conversation to be respectful of people’s time, but I’m largely stymied (and it’s been this way since before the recession). I am hoping you and your HR/recruiting readers have specific suggestions or stories about what works to get them to participate in new or creative recruiting activities with individual colleges and universities or other 3rd party recruiting consortia.

Thanks for listening!

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