I get calls from friends with children graduating from college who ‘need some help’ finding internships or permanent employment. Two of the recent students I have helped are interesting to me because of the assistance they receive from their university’s career placement, as well as the contacts from companies that have been coming their way.
It is interesting to me because reviewing the backgrounds of the two students would lead one to believe these two would have ‘no problem’ finding the right employer, really one would think employers should be doing all they can to pursue them, but they aren’t. I have a couple of ideas as to why the situation is what it is and more importantly, have suggestions for students looking for internships or work aligned with career desires.
One of the students I am working with is a merit scholar at a university in the southwest and is studying to graduate with degrees in economics, philosophy and Latin American Studies. The other will graduate from a top engineering school in the southwest with a degree in aeronautical engineering and has a high GPA.
So these descriptions beg a couple of questions:
- What do students do to find the right opportunity?
- Why are HR organizations for companies not aware of these students?
Let’s take these one at a time and we will get to suggestions, so bear with me.
What it appears students do to find work…
The answer to the first is what most people looking for work do – they review websites for job/opportunity postings and submit their resume, and then what happens? Nothing – crickets chirp louder and why? Easy, companies don’t have the resources to manage inquiries and few executives understand the need and upside for making investments in talent acquisition through great relationship management. In the late 90’s, because of the Internet the future was described as one where companies would seek out and value talent relationships ahead of need…that HR would become strategic versus reactive and all in the world would be wonderful. Based on the discussions I’ve had with these students and others, we missed and we missed badly. Not only are students not finding work easily, they hear a negative outlook on the future of work, at a time when the reality is we have positions to fill in this country and companies complain the right talent is not available. For smart people, we are not solving this problem very effectively.
Why don’t companies build relationships with talent ahead of demand?
Resources are at a premium and few companies understand the value of searching out talent ahead of need and establishing a relationship of value. In the descriptions here every company that does business in Latin America should know every merit scholar studying Latin American studies and Economics at major universities in the US and around the world. They should have already established a relationship and begun a nurturing process for future need. There are not that many and it is not that difficult. Same can be said for the Aeronautic Engineering major but rather than reach out it appears companies and students sit back, use the Internet and wait.
Students and companies alike must think about standing out in the market by doing things differently than everyone else:
Network to establish personal relationships
Students – look to Glassdoor to understand how employees think of their employer
Companies – look to Glassdoor to see how employees think of you
For both – be different by thinking and acting strategic in your search for work or talent
We as students, employees and companies must do a better job of career relationship, transition and transaction. It is past time to get this right.