The University of St. Thomas
Blogging career and job search news to Tommies everywhere

Employer Hot Topics

What college grads want from their careers, Part II

Published on: Monday, March 17th, 2014

This article includes selected data from the Universum Student Survey conducted Spring 2013.  Over 65,000 graduating college seniors from across the country responded to this survey.

Primary Values

  1. To have work/life balance            (62%)
  2. To be secure or stable in my job                (57%)
  3. To be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I am serving a greater good     (49%)

Changes over the years to these values:  Since the Great Recession, the desire for security and stability has increased.  The interest in being “entrepreneurial or creative/innovative” has increased substantially.

Employer Attributes

What are students looking at when examining potential employers?

  • Attractive/exciting products and services
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Ethical standards
  • Fast-growing/entrepreneurial

Students are keen on organizational culture, and note these characteristics as most desirable –

  • Creative and dynamic work environment
  • Friendly work environment
  • Acceptance towards minorities
  • Enabling me to integrate personal interests in my schedule
  • Interaction with international clients/colleagues
  • Leaders who will support my development

Most attractive Job Characteristics:

  • Challenging work
  • Client interaction
  • Control over my number of working hours
  • Flexible working conditions
  • High level of responsibility

Once again, as in other surveys, the opportunity for career advancement leads over high salary.

Where and how students would like to find more information about employers:

  1. Career/Job Fairs               (47%)
  2. Presentations on campus             (44%)
  3. Employer –sponsored events    (38%)
  4. Employer websites
  5. Social networks
  6. Job Boards

Note, the top three involve in-person interactions with employers!

The Take-Aways for college recruiting:

  • Know your target audience and what motivates them
  • Determine your value proposition, what differentiates you from your competition
  • Find ways to integrate the personal touch, in-person interactions
  • Ensure that you are sincere in your messaging

Bottom Line – you can’t be what you’re not, you can’t be all things to all people, but if you can find ways to communicate with college candidates in person to describe your culture, and what could make you an employer-of-choice, you will be doing well!

Questions about this Universum survey report can be directed to John Flato,


Are you an Employer-of-choice? Part I

Published on: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

[This is Part I of a 2-part series citing survey reports from college seniors.]

Each year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducts a survey of graduating college seniors.  The Class of 2013 survey had over 10,000 respondents from across the U.S.  I wanted to share some insights that stood out to me, within Employer Relations – insights that might help employers understand what could make their opportunities attractive to a new college grad.

What do students look for when considering a job?

  • Casual atmosphere
  • Clearly defined assignments
  • Workforce diversity
  • Friendly co-workers
  • Good benefits

These items are fairly consistent with the Millennial Generation profile.  Notably, three out of their top five are reflected in an organization’s culture.

When weighing a job offer, what is considered?

  1. Opportunity for personal growth
  2. Friendly co-workers
  3. Job security
  4. Good benefits package
  5. Recognition for good performance

As our over-scheduled children become adults, we find they get bored easily, therefore, the interest in continuous learning, growth & development in their careers is at the top of their list.

In reviewing Benefits, which are most important to a college grad?

  • Annual salary increase
  • 401(k) company match
  • Tuition reimbursement benefit

Up until the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the number one benefit desired by college grads was employer-paid health insurance; now they are covered until age 26 under their parents if necessary, so that is not as big a concern.  The two items now at the top of the list reflect their interest in Security and Stability.

When seeking information about an employer, what sources to students turn to?

  1. The employer’s website
  2. Their friends
  3. Their parents/relatives
  4. Career fair participation
  5. Faculty

Note the number one source – have you developed a webpage for college applicants that is helpful, educational, and inspirational?  Are there lots of photos?  Videos?  Clearly, a well-done website, will make a good impression!

Who is most influential?

  • Friends
  • Parents
  • Faculty

If friends are most influential as students engage in their job search, then it makes sense that your past interns can be important PR spokes-people for you when they return to campus.   They will talk about their internship with you… in positive or negative terms.

A full copy of the NACE Class of 2013 Student Survey Report can be found at:

How to find the best intern talent

Published on: Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Yes, there are lots of college students looking for internships, but there are also lots of internships available.  It goes without saying that employers offering monetary compensation will be the first to draw students’ attention, but what will continue to attract an intern applicant is much more than just $$.  You have to break through all the hundreds of other internship listings to grab their attention.

It starts with a great internship job description.

Are you effectively describing the types of projects and experiences interns will have with you?

Could you even add a link to an example of something produced by a past intern?

If you are too vague and general, no one can imagine what they will be doing or learning.  Why would that generate applicants?

How can a candidate learn more about you and the experience?

Are you utilizing social media to its fullest?   Be creative…create:

  • A Group on LinkedIn for your internship program.
  • An Instagram showcasing company culture.
  • A video of past interns and staff talking about the neat things they are doing and what they like best about your organization.  Upload it to your homepage and/or YouTube.
  • Engage with school career center LinkedIn Groups – Post Discussions about your internship!

Do you have ways to personally interact with potential intern candidates?

In this age of technology, students still appreciate one on one interactions!

Campus Information Sessions, Student Club Presentations are common forms of visibility, but can you think outside the box?

Do you have staff that are alum from your target schools?  Are they active with their Alumni Associations?  There are usually programs and events that can connect alum with current students.

Can you create a group Skype or Google+ event?

Connect with influential players

Get to know the career center staff at your target schools.

Learn about relevant student clubs, their student leaders & faculty advisors.

Ask your current staff who are recent college grads about classes where profs invited guest speakers in – who are those faculty?


Challenge the applicant

A creative challenge, when done right, will not scare away applicants, but will draw in candidates that like to stand out.

  • Include requests for writing samples, or portfolio samples with applications.
  • Within social media develop a fun “challenge” – have applicants record a speech, make a video, whatever activity will showcase the skills you need.

Offer enticing elements

Note in the position description any extra perks in addition to an hourly wage you can provide – how can you be different from all the other intern employers?

  • Free parking?
  • Lunch once a week?
  • Work from home or remotely one day a week?
  • Pay for a workshop or conference for the intern?
  • Attend Board meetings?
  • Offer Lunch & Learn sessions with your executive team?
  • Offer job shadow days with other departments?

You want the intern you hire to return to campus describing their experience with you as “awesome!”

So, remember, great impressions about you and applicant-intrigue begins with the job description and continues through the hiring process and the internship itself.

Adapted from TLNT online blog article, “The Top Reasons You Probably End Up Hiring Mediocre Interns” by Nathan Parcells, October 2013.