If you’re a working professional, chances are you’ve received an email, LinkedIn message, or even a cold call from a recruiter.  As a recent college grad, I’ll admit that I ignored almost every single form of communication that I received from a recruiter during my senior year. Of course, most of these were from service-oriented programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, as well as the U.S. Army. I viewed these emails and the occasional letter as nothing more than a mass mailing since virtually every one of my friends and fellow classmates received them as well (and on several occasions the email addressed to me either misspelled my name or had the wrong name entirely). However, now that I’ve had first-hand experience with recruiting here at Axcient, I know that what I like to call “real-world” recruiting is nothing like my experience with recruiting in college.

If someone had asked me a year ago what I saw myself doing in 2012, I would have not expected to say recruiting. This is not only because of my perception of recruiting in college, but also, as a self-proclaimed introvert, I wasn’t sure I’d have what it takes to be in a position that requires frequent communication with people and often making cold calls (which I have yet to do and am still highly apprehensive about). However, when given the opportunity to assist our recruiter, I jumped at the chance to get involved and soon discovered that recruiting is much more than cold calling and sending mass mailings. I started out with some basic tasks – mostly scheduling interviews and updating our candidate database. Then I dived into sourcing.

For those who don’t know, sourcing is the process by which we search for qualified candidates in LinkedIn Recruiter or – for engineering positions – TalentBin. Although sourcing can be a grueling process at times, I’ve learned that it is an art in and of itself. My approach involves very rapid, yet careful consideration and scrutiny of profiles (for all jobseekers and fellow recent grads, remember this the next time you’re updating your LinkedIn profile). I continue to evolve and build upon my sourcing strategy every day and am constantly brainstorming new ways to attract the best, fresh talent.

Now, this is not to say college recruiting is not without a concrete strategy. I recently read a CBS News article published in December 2011 that proved helpful in shedding some light on the inconsistencies I found between college recruiting and real world recruiting. According to “Employers’ 11 Favorite Recruiting Strategies for Hiring New College Grads,” top strategies include:

  • Internships (favored by 66% of workplaces) –either part-time during the school year or during the summer
  • Career fairs (62%)
  • Hosting on-campus presentations by alumni (49%)

That’s when it hit me. The emails I received in college – those from Teach for America and other service-oriented organizations addressed to “Justin Corella” and various misspelled versions of my name – were simply ways to catch my attention for the real recruiting events, the on-campus presentations by former participants of these programs as well as career fairs. Now that I think about it, this face-to-face interaction with alumni and non-alumni alike is what convinced me to apply to these programs as well as some summer internships throughout my college career. Not all universities place the same amount of effort in coordinating alumni connections with career services, but it is often a highly successful way to attract students.

However, over the past few months, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that recruiting does not necessarily have to be face-to-face in order to be effective. Even if candidates that I’ve sourced are not on the market for a new job, I’ve found that a compelling, informational message about the company to their email or LinkedIn account increases the chances that he or she will respond, even if it’s just to say “not interested” – or to refer me to someone who might be.

Despite my experience on the receiving end of misspelled recruiting emails in college, working as a recruiter has been a great first job experience for me. I’ve had opportunity to interact with each and every department and learn about each job position in detail. Meeting potential candidates of varied backgrounds and experience levels has also been valuable. And perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that having a well-thought out strategy will ultimately deliver the best results. In the case of recruiting, this means searching for and bringing in qualified, driven, and innovative candidates who will help the company achieve its goals.

Interested in an internship or full time position at a start-up? Axcient is hiring. Visit our careers page or email [email protected]