Real collaboration happens when your challenges overlap

I’ve had some interesting conversations recently with graduate recruiters and careers services, with both sides wanting to understand how they can engage more effectively with the other.

I think the secret to great collaboration – and by this I mean more than just sponsoring a careers service handbook with your logo on the back page, or inviting an employer to come and deliver a workshop to your students – is about looking for overlapping challenges.  When a recruiter and a careers service work together to solve a problem they both face, good things happen.  And I think these overlapping challenges are more common that we might imagine.

If you are working in a careers service, your university’s Access Agreement might mean that you need to think creatively about how to reach out to students from underrepresented backgrounds, who might not even know what a careers service does.  You might be working with high quality international students, who have to look for a career in their home country when they graduate.  You are almost certainly trying to encourage more students to think about their career in their first year – while they still have time to develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in their job search (and before the other distractions of campus life catch their attention).  And you might need to help your university’s executive team to understand the employability agenda, so that the decisions they take have a positive impact on your institution’s position in the market.

If you are a graduate recruiter, the social mobility agenda might mean that you need to think creatively about how to reach out to students from underrepresented backgrounds, who might not even be considering a career with your company.  You might want to work with high quality international students, to meet recruitment targets in your overseas offices.  You are almost certainly trying to encourage more students to start a dialogue with you in their first year – while they still have time to develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in your industry (and before your competitors catch their attention).  And you might need to help your company’s senior management team to understand the university agenda, so that the decisions they take have a positive impact on your organisation’s position in the market.

How much more effective might you be if you tackled some of these challenges together?

The tricky part, of course, is understanding the landscape from the other point of view.  My time at City University gave me a different perspective on the graduate recruitment process, and made me question some of the assumptions I made when I was recruiting (I wrote a blog on this topic last year).  I would be happy to have a chat if you’d like to find out more about what I learned.

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