Four years working as Director of Careers at City University London has given me the opportunity to watch the impact that graduate recruiters make on campus, as seen through the eyes of the students.

The university landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years.  The increasingly competitive undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment environment has forced universities to adopt a more focused approach to attract new students.  At the same time higher student fees mean that more first years arrive on campus already aware of the need to start their job search early.  Graduate employability has never been higher on the agenda, and the role of the careers service is firmly in the spotlight.  This is creating new opportunities for employers.

My experience of leading the careers service at City through this period of change has given me a new appreciation of employer engagement from both an institution’s and a student’s perspective. This view, combined with my experience at Logica and AGR, helps me suggest new ways for employers to engage on campus to find the graduate talent they wish to hire.

I work with graduate recruiters to help them to (click on each section for more details):

Understand what is driving student behaviour.

  • How has the student mindset changed since the introduction of higher fees, and what are they doing differently as a result?
  • What else is competing for a student’s attention on campus – and how can you take advantage of this?
  • Why do some students come to your events while others stay away?
  • How can you influence the students you never meet?

Create great engagements when they visit the campus.

  • Campus and non-campus universities: why should you approach them differently?
  • Tailoring your engagements: you would not expect students to submit a generic CV, so why would you offer a generic campus activity?
  • Does the milk round still work, and how do students view company presentations?
  • Why might the spring term be an untapped resource?
  • How else can you get students’ attention: the trade off between scale and substance.
  • Harnessing the power of social media: students will talk about your appearance on campus even if they didn’t attend your event, so how can you make sure that they are saying the right things?
  • How not to do it: why do some campus engagements go wrong?

Meet the students they want to target before their competitors do.

  • Why should you get involved in a university’s recruitment process?
  • Widening Participation: how does a university’s Outreach agenda match your social mobility aspirations, and can you help each other?
  • How do schools and colleges connect to your target universities, and could you be part of that conversation?
  • What is happening during the summer before students start their studies?
  • First impressions count: how can you make your brand stand out during the avalanche of activity that is Welcome Week?

Make the most of the support that a good careers service can offer.

  • How has the role of the careers service changed in the last few years, and what does this mean for employers?
  • What questions should you ask the head of careers the first time you meet them?
  • Does the careers service understand your priorities and constraints, and do you understand theirs?  How can you help each other?
  • How can the careers service help you connect to the right people in their university – including academics?