Guest Blogger: Ashley Collins, Agriculture Future of America
It’s almost August. Stores are stocking school supplies and commercials advertising back to school are in full swing. For employers, an approaching fall means preparation is underway for college recruitment programs. Today, more than ever before, agricultural employers will need a strategic plan and to utilize their available resources effectively to create success. According to the AgCareers.com 2016/2017 Agribusiness HR Review, when HR professionals were asked about their workforce size predictions for the next two years, 51% (the majority) reported that their workface size would remain the same. Only 45% are predicting an increase, which is a drop of 14% from 2015 when nearly 60% of ag employers predicted their workforce would grow. However, new grads and students looking for internships, need not worry; the annual report also states that 46% of employers remain committed to new graduate recruitment (up 1% over the year before) as part of their strategy for succession planning and to compete for top talent. This also means competition for the top talent on campus is going to be as competitive if not more than it has in the past! Here are a few tips to help employers be successful in college recruitment this fall.
This is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants making campus visits. When deciding what events/campuses to attend/visit, your organization must begin by evaluating what’s available. Ask yourself; does that school have a strong educational discipline that matches the type of candidates we’re looking for? Is there a club or organization on that campus providing opportunities to students that will make them stronger hires for our company? Does the campus offer a career fair specific to my industry that will draw students to the event? Do I have a strong campus ally either in career services or in a faculty member/club advisor who can help me get in front of the students I want to recruit? Answering those questions will help you determine what career fairs to attend and what schools you want to begin building relationships with for future visits. AgCareers.com has compiled an online listing of career fairs at schools with strong agricultural programs, this listing includes events dates and links to the school webpage or contact for more information. To view that listing click here.
Look Beyond Campus
Industry related and professional events can also provide opportunities for your company to shine in front of young talent. These are groups who bring together elite young talent for two- and three-day conference activities that revolve around a specific educational discipline or student interest. The Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference and Opportunity Fair brings together 800 agriculture and food students from across the country, who have been competitively selected to attend a three day conference, November 2-5th in Kansas City, MO. This event and others like it hosted by different associations like the American Society of Agronomy, The Irrigation Association and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association to name a few hold annual professional conferences and provide activities for collegiate students to attend and network with companies. The students who attend these events are typically the best and brightest in their educational program at their college or university. By attending these events, you are able to network with students from across the nation at a central location.
Students today have been on technology overload. While they are savvy at using technology, attending a career fair or other in-person recruiting event, and being told to go online is a frustrating turn-off. While for many of us these online tools are a must, be conscious of who and how that message is portrayed. Utilize former interns and alumni when you are on campus. Send more than one person so those attending can actually spend time talking to students. Work with your campus partners to identify other ways you can be personable on campus. Organizing opportunities for employees to speak and teach about the technologies and tools they use every day in a guest lecture format on a campus is an example of building those personable relationships. Another may be participating in a panel hosted on campus or at a conference on a hot topic in your industry. Can’t be there in person? Use technology in a personable way, video conference! There are a variety of ways you can have personal, meaningful, touchpoints with students beyond a typical career fair. Be creative. Attending the AgCareers.com Ag & Food HR Roundtable? We’ll be discussing these creative ideas during the panel discussion Accelerating Key Partnerships between Employers & Universities. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #AgRT.
Take your college recruitment to the next level by also attending the August 8 webinar “Gearing Up for Campus Recruitment Season.”