Some of your most powerful advocates, best recruiters, and greatest sources for information on candidates will never work for you. They are professors at the universities and colleges where you recruit. They have access to students that allows them to assess their work ethic and performance, ability to work in teams, openness to learning, and ability to meet deadlines. In short, they have all the information we wish we had about candidates before we hire them. So here are a few tips on how you tap into that great resource. Finding the Professors If you are unfamiliar with the professors at a college or university, there are a number of ways you can tap into their resources. Your best source for information on professors are your current employees. Find alumni from the university you are targeting. Tell them you are interested in tapping into the faculty to find good candidates. Ask them who the best professors are and who they might know who would be interested in such an opportunity. You may even want to enlist those alumni to make the initial contact with the professor. Educators love to hear from former students, and are often willing to help them. This is also an excellent way to get alumni involved in recruiting on campus. If you don’t have any alumni to make such recommendations, turn to the Career Services facility at the university. They will have recommendations on professors who are focused on student opportunities beyond the classroom. While you want the best professors in the departments, you also want those who are interested in their students’ career opportunities. Career Services will know which faculty will be the best resources. Another source for faculty recommendations are the department heads. Involvement with corporate life used to be frowned upon in academia, but today it is seen as an essential part of academic life. From either the college website or other materials, you can find out which professor heads up the department you’re interested in, and contact him or her directly. By starting from the top, you are more likely to get in touch with the best people and provide them for incentive to become involved with your organization. If you can find a cooperative department head, you will find the contacts you need. Preparing for First Contact Once you have found the names, do some research on the professors before making that first contact. Get to know which courses they teach and in which areas of research they are involved. The more you know about the professor before that first phone call, the more ideas you will be able to generate on partnering with them. A professor’s main concern will be what will be required of them and how you can contribute to their students. Professors will be most cooperative with an informed recruiter who is honest about his or her intentions, but is also willing to give back to the university. It is fine that you are interested in recruiting their students. However, you should also be interested in working with the university to prepare those students for life after college. Have ideas prepared of how you are going to accomplish this before you pick up the phone. The types of activities you should be developing are guest speakers, job shadowing, plant or company visits, panels or sponsoring research projects. The First Contact The timing of that first phone call and content is important in making that first impression. The middle and end of each semester are not good times to call. Professors are busy writing and grading exams at those times and will have little time to spend with you. Find out the schedule for the university and contact professors between midterms and finals. At this time they will have more time to speak with you and will be open to talk about involvement. They will also be interested in talking to you about the next semester’s classes, so plan ahead and around your recruiting calendar. In that first phone call, you are just looking to make an impression, and your goal should be to set up a meeting in person. Let the professor know what you are looking to do and ask them if they would be interested in discussing it further. At the in person meeting you should come prepared to talk about specific ideas. Once you have made the initial contact, the relationship should develop based on mutual needs and goals. One person in your organization should be assigned to managing that relationship. Although you will have multiple people who work on activities, the professor should always have a main contact within your organization. Over time, you’ll find that professors are an invaluable resource in recruiting. The more involved you become with them and their classes or research, the better candidates they will be able to send you. This result will grow out of a deeper understanding of what you are looking for and greater integration of your recruiting efforts in the classroom.
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