Getting the Most From College Recruiting, Part 2: College Alumni Rosters

Apr 9, 2003

College recruiting has for years been a staple for recruiters looking for entry-level candidates. Still, I often find that recruiters struggle with:

  • Finding cost-effective ways to tap into the 70% of the candidates who do not find jobs via career services and job fairs
  • Utilizing colleges to tap into experienced, exempt-level professional talent

In an article I wrote on college recruiting in February, I outlined a cost-effective strategy to tap into 100% of the qualified candidates on campus (not just the 30% that show up at campus job fairs) using a “college ambassador program.” Today I want to tackle the second issue and discuss an excellent, cost-effective way to tap into the passive candidate pool of experienced, high quality professionals by utilizing college alumni rosters! Traditional Alumni Services In recent years, many colleges and universities have evolved their business models to include more “life-long learning” services for post-graduate students, including advanced degrees, professional seminars/workshops, and ongoing career counseling. Many of these same organizations have done an excellent job of creating Internet-based job boards for alumni to either post their resumes or review positions targeted to experienced professionals. While I would encourage you to check out these services that many colleges universities have to offer (and use them!), remember that they still only tap into the fraction of the labor market that is either:

  • Out of work
  • Looking for a job

Based on most labor studies, this probably only represents 15-30% of the total alumni population at best! So how can you tap into the other 70-85% of experienced alumni? Those passively looking, highly skilled applicants our hiring managers (and we) desperately desire? Tap into the passive candidate pool using college alumni rosters! College Alumni Rosters The majority of colleges create a book (or CD) that includes all alumni who are interested in keeping in contact with former colleagues, etc. They normally make it available, for a small fee, to all alumni. Typically, these “alumni rosters” contain such valuable data including:

  • Degree and year graduated
  • Current contact information, including email
  • Current employer, occupation, and title

In other words, a recruiting goldmine! Acquiring an Alumni Roster Getting a hold of these rosters is pretty simple. Just identify the schools that you want to get them from and cross-reference the list with your personal or professional network. Then ask one of the people in your network to purchase the book for you (of course you will pay for it). Be upfront and let them know what you are going to use it for (marketing your organization’s opportunities). If you can’t find anyone in your personal or professional network that is an alumni of a particular school you want to acquire a roster from, you might want to ask some of your employees to assist. A passive approach might be: “We have had tremendous success hiring people from East Western Michigan. If you are alumni of this school, please contact me. We are looking to recruit experienced alumni from this school!” How To Use Alumni Rosters Once again, this is pretty simple. Depending on the types of people you are looking for, you can cross-reference the book and identify target profiles. For example, if you are looking for a mechanical engineer with three to five years of experience, you can go back three to five years, look up mechanical engineering graduates, and start dialing (or emailing) away! If you’re looking for a sales manager with 10-plus years of experience, you would probably start with all business graduates (or MBAs) who have been working for at least 10 years. You might also want to check out the liberal arts major graduates, or maybe just review all graduates who have been working ten to fifteen years and look at what they are currently doing. This is an excellent way to develop a target sourcing strategy that taps into the experienced, passive applicant pool of quality candidates your hiring managers are looking for! A real life example: Last year, our company was looking for a candidate with an engineering degree (EE or ME preferred), at least 10 years experience, and expertise in supply chain manufacturing processes. In addition, we were hoping this person worked for a “Big 5” consulting firm and had an MBA. Within one day, we had three qualified candidates (after four hours of sourcing) from alumni rosters. They all interviewed, and one got hired and filled the position! To have fun collecting these roster lists, we held a contest (for 10 recruiters) to see who could collect the most college alumni rosters. In one month, the team had collected over 18 books with over 100,000 names. Cost of these invaluable resources? $900! In just over two months, the recruiters made five executive and exempt-level placements via a targeted email sourcing campaign. Not a bad return on the investment! Don’t make sourcing passive candidates harder than it needs to be. Spending a few hours collecting college alumni rosters (and using them for sourcing) might be one of the most beneficial sourcing practices you can do.

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