January 24, 2003

Students, CAPS adjust to slumping economy

With the economy in a slump, students seeking full-time jobs and summer internships will face a greater challenge getting face time with potential employers. According to recruiters, however, new Internet applications including MonsterTRAK and InterviewTRAK have exponentially increased the opportunities to apply. Additionally, University of Chicago Career and Placement Services (CAPS) is making an attempt to supply more free recruitment opportunities to lessen the economic barriers employers face when recruiting.

"We're currently looking at our whole job fair strategy--both incentives and the costs to employers--and how we can increase not only the number, but also the diversity of our recruiting employers," said Jay Burgin, associate director of recruiting for CAPS.

While the University has typically drawn from the consulting and investment banking professions, it will continue to make more attempts to diversify its job offerings. This year, the University will participate in the Hire Big 10+ consortium--a consortium of the Big 10 schools that also includes the University of Chicago and Notre Dame. As a part of the consortium, the University will host a live communications fair on April 3.

"We will target the entire communications field: advertising, public relations, marketing, and reporting. These are fields that do 'just in time' hiring without a lot of recruiting," Burgin said.

Similarly, CAPS will offer lower-cost and free-of-charge incentives to the nonprofit community, which typically faces the hardest time with recruiting. While for-profit companies pay MonsterTRAK $25 to post a job or internship listing, CAPS works directly with nonprofits and posts their listings for free.

At job fairs, CAPS charges for-profit companies $425 to participate. It provides the Non-Profit/Public Service Job Fair free of charge to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, it provides free room rentals to nonprofits who wish to host informational sessions.

"Ida Noyes charges $50 for the room and that cost is picked up by CAPS," said Liz Michaels, director of CAPS.

For recruiters like Matt Dundas, national coordinator for the Campaign to Save the Environment, this assistance makes a huge difference. Dundas, who recruits at over 100 schools per year, has a recruiting budget of $1,000.

"Economic constraints have stopped us from visiting campuses in the past," Dundas said. "In the past, we relied heavily on flyering but in these free Internet times, we're able to reach more people at a lower cost."

Maru Sequeira, who oversees the internship program for Senator Bob Graham in Miami, agrees that Internet use has made it much easier to recruit.

"What we used to do was to send mail-outs to 20, 30, maybe 40 schools throughout the nation," Sequeira said. "Through MonsterTRAK, we're getting a much better response."

MonsterTRAK and InterviewTRAK have also simplified the entire recruiting process.

"In terms of making it easier for recruiters, online recruiting is the way to go," said Cathy Mongello, an assistant vice president of recruiting for Bank of America Securities. Mongello suggests that students use the Internet to gain more company and industry knowledge. According to her, students must be active, speak with potential employers at every opportunity, and attend company presentations. Recruiters do remember outstanding students after they meet them, she said.

"If there's a candidate from a school we do not recruit from, and the student makes an effort to get in touch with us and show us their interest, I will make a recommendation to interview them," Mongello said. She also stressed the need for strong communication between potential employers and the university career offices. She credits university career services that keep recruiters informed of upcoming events and opportunities to showcase their work and their brand.

CAPS continues to seek new ideas that attract and maintain potential employers and has recently hired an associate director of employer development to communicate with potential and preexisting recruiters.

On Monday, CAPS will launch a month-long virtual career fair that will enable students to view company presentations over the Internet.