Year-round college recruiting takes a front seat

To get a jump on the competition in the race for talent, forget about the recruiting off-season.


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Still in shock from that bumpy ride you took on the college recruiting circuit this spring? Well, you're not alone. A lot of companies did their due diligence and handed out great job opportunities, only to be turned down by college students wielding a fistful of competing offers.

But don't plan on taking the summer off just yet. College recruiting is now a year-round activity. While the rapid advance of technology is creating more jobs than the workforce can fill, more and more companies are using the off-season to recruit that limited pool of tech-savvy college grads.

So, to be on the winning end of the talent war, here's a little summer schooling:

What's another 90 days? Give summer graduates more consideration.

It is estimated that 10% of IT jobs go unfilled each year, costing the country as much as billion annually in lost production. And right now it can take up to four months to fill a job in Silicon Valley--the place where IT talent is most heavily concentrated. That's roughly the same amount of time it takes a summer college graduate to finish school. Are you devoting enough energy and money to this pool of candidates? If not, it may be worth your while.

Spring graduates and December graduates, in that order, tend to be the two primary targets for college recruiters because of their sheer numbers. But the dynamics of current supply and demand have made it imperative to reach all potential candidates, which now means that summer is sizzling like never before.

Is your next hire already on the payroll? Turn your summer intern program into a recruiting boot camp.

Summer interns are a captive audience, yet employers sometimes consider their graduation dates too far away for serious consideration. That is quickly changing. Everyone from freshmen through seniors, and even some high school students, can show potential as summer help. That raises the question: Why aren't you treating them better?

If you can give 90 days' probation to evaluate a new hire, why not spend that same amount of time screening summer interns for future positions? And rather than relegating them to work that noone else desires, give them creative projects that will excite them about the possibility of a full-time career with your company. Loyalty is easier to earn when interns are immersed in your company's culture. Once they get back to campus, your message is just one in a crowd.

Jon Kolko, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, will become a visual design specialist with Austin, Texas-based Trilogy Software Inc. in January 2001. But recruiting him to the company began all the way back in 1999 when, as a summer intern in Trilogy's Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Group, Kolko got an offer to join the company.

Kolko was only a junior at the time, but his research for the company gave him an early indication of the exciting work he could be part of as a full-time employee. During his internship, he was given the task of examining how the HCI Group would fit in Trilogy's overall move toward e-commerce software production. He ultimately presented his findings to hundreds of company employees.

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