The University Record, October 9, 2000

Many strategies needed to successfully recruit job-seekers

By Monica Finch
Human Resources/Affirmative Action

Human Resources representatives Sandra Henkel and Jon Lund (from left) recently participated in a job fair sponsored by the ‘Ann Arbor News,’ just one of the approaches the University uses to attract employees. The externally sponsored job fairs help recruiters find a wider pool of qualified candidates. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services
Cynthia Kabza, director of Employment and Executive Services, Human Resources and Affirmative Action (HRAA), may view the current low unemployment figures with mixed emotions. During this economic boom, the University’s Employment Office is even more challenged to find good matches for the long list of job openings and career opportunities at the University.

To meet the challenge, Kabza and her staff have utilized a variety of creative and innovative ways to get the word out that the University has much to offer. The U-M has always used advertising and active recruitment to attract job candidates, Kabza says. Job postings appear in the Record and the Employment Office routinely runs ads in the Ann Arbor News and other newspapers. Staff recruiters attend job fairs, including ones sponsored by the Ann Arbor News, the Observer & Eccentric newspapers, Western Michigan University, U-M Career Planning and Placement, Washtenaw Community College and the Michigan Collegiate Job Fair.

Employment’s Sabrina Garrett-Owens plans and coordinates off-campus recruiting. “In 1999 alone,” Garrett-Owens says, “the Employment Office participated in seven external job fairs.”

Job Fairs

Twice yearly, the Employment Office sponsors its own job fairs at Wolverine Tower. The events are broadly advertised and subsequently well attended, Kabza says. The fairs’ extended hours (8 a.m.–6 p.m.) accommodate many schedules, allowing candidates to conveniently come in and fill out job applications. “These events result in a significant number of placements,” she reports. They are so successful that other job fairs are planned. The next big event is scheduled for Oct. 10. Recruiters also recently attended fairs sponsored by the Observer & Eccentric, the Ann Arbor News, Career Planning and Placement and the Western Michigan University chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi.

Job seekers and employers alike enthusiastically attend job fairs. Employers say the fairs are more timely and often less costly than conventional media. Job seekers feel they can be more selective and say they like the almost immediate feedback.

Even in this cyber-focused world, research conducted by large Web-based recruiting sites indicates that the most effective venue to attract good job candidates remains the job fair. Kabza and her staff agree. Employers must pay a significant member fee to each employment Web site in order to access its candidate pool. This fee can amount to thousands of dollars, whereas the cost of the average job fair is $700–$800. So, there also is a cost savings benefit to job fairs.

Campus visits

University recruiters also visit area college campuses, primarily in southeastern Michigan, including Eastern Michigan University. As the need grows, the Employment Office has extended its efforts into western Michigan. Another goal of the Employment Office is to market the University to high school and community college students as well, Kabza explains. “We want to give them a better sense of U-M’s opportunities,” she says.

Internet

Kabza says her department uses the Internet to advertise career opportunities for information technology professionals. The University participated in a member-based, Web-recruiting venture that is used in other parts of the country. This medium has been successful in filling a number of University positions.

Recruiting or job hunting on the Internet allows for quick responses via e-mail. Resumes can be sent electronically and e-applicants can connect with recruiters more quickly. The entire system expedites the process. Furthermore, recruiters have learned that cyber job candidates are more attuned to that medium. In addition, the costs to advertise are usually lower and recruiters can create a greater pool of candidates.

When recruiting or job searching via the Web, a number of sites can be mined. A good resource for IT professionals and engineers in southeast Michigan is www.Detroit.techies.com. The Chronicle of Higher Education offers Web postings at www.chronicle.com/jobs along with print advertising. With Higher Ed Jobs Online (www.higher-ed.org/jobs.htm), the University can post its job offerings free of charge. Professional organizations are another viable resource—some are free, others charge. Job seekers and recruiters alike can peruse general Web sites such as www.Monster.com, www.CareerMosiac.com, www.Jobtrak.com and http://aa.mlive.com/careers, which accompanies print ads in the Ann Arbor News.

The Employment Office staff works to familiarize job seekers with the University’s employment web site, www.umich.edu/~jobs, by advertising the site in the Detroit papers and Ann Arbor News. Likewise, recruiters may find the following University sites useful in their search for candidates: www.umich.edu /~hraa/empserv/altpost/allcomp.htm and www.umich.edu/~hraa/empserv/altpost/allskill.htm.

The Employment Office collaborates with University units to find the best “fit” for a position. Individual departments coordinate with the Employment Office to develop the right kind of recruiting strategies, Kabza says. “The Employment Office is able to conduct more centralized activities to attract people,” she explains. Her staff helps write ads, assists in identifying skills and competencies, and forwards e-mail resumes to U-M hiring supervisors.

Other effective job advertising venues include professional publications, seminars or conferences, unemployment offices, sororities and fraternities, and radio and television.

The Employment Office reminds recruiters that there is a vastly underutilized segment of the population that is often a good source for job candidates. This includes retirees, individuals with disabilities and older workers.

Right now, the University needs senior level support staff, such as administrative assistants, Kabza says. But there also are openings for senior secretaries and entry-level professional positions. In this past year, there has been a demand for accountants, financial analysts and systems people.

The University offers a wide variety of jobs. “Many people don’t realize there is such a range of jobs here. They assume only academic jobs are available,” Kabza says. The Employment Office is trying to attract the interest of first-time job seekers and to reach prospective job candidates outside the Ann Arbor area to let them know that the University is a good employer. To date, this continues to be the biggest challenge.