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By September 3, 2015Blog

Finding good workers is a constant struggle for human resources professionals. The dropping unemployment rate has led to fewer and fewer applicants per position. While a plethora of online employment sites offer more options for advertising open jobs, the quality of candidates does not measure up to the needs of the organization.

Here is an option that is worth considering: go back to school. According to the Department of Education and various industry reports, there are more than 4,700 two and four year colleges and universities with degree granting programs, and some 6,500 technical and trade schools turning out graduates with skills geared toward particular industries. That means there are more than 11,000 schools turning out prospective employees—a great resource for you to tap for your next open position.

Almost every one of these schools has some kind of placement department to help their students land positions, either while they are still in school or after graduation. In addition, many schools require internships or externships as part of their educational requirements. Students in these programs are eager to find places where they fulfill the requirement, and are eager to make a good impression. You are likely to get their very best effort. While training may pose a challenge, many companies consider the investment well worth the cost.

According to a 2014 study from NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), almost two thirds of interns received a full time job offer. Yet the same study pointed out a decline in the number of internships being offered. Though the expecting hiring of interns varied by geographic region and industry, this remains a great resource that should not be overlooked. Here are some ways in which you can reach this potential source of employees effectively.

Let the schools know that you are looking.

A quick phone call or email laying out the requirements of a position you are trying to fill to the placement office of suitable schools in your area is a very effective way of leveraging your employee hunt. Because you are aligning your interests with theirs, they will go to work to locate prospects for you.

Whether you a seeking a current student for an internship or a recent graduate for a full time position, you are giving the placement professional an opportunity to do what they are tasked with accomplishing. A request for help filling a job is never going to be treated as an annoyance. The better relationship you develop with these people, and the better feedback you give them on the prospects they send you, the more likely this is to be a productive source of potential employees.

Consider hosting a reverse job fair.

If you are trying to fill a number of positions at the same time, consider hosting a lunch for placement people from as many local schools as you can. This will give you an opportunity to “sell” your organization to them as a good place to work, let them get to know your people and become familiar with where they are sending their students.

The information that you provide to these professionals regarding what your company offers will be relayed to many people that you would otherwise not likely reach. Take the time to put together packets for each open position, laying out the requirements and skills you need, and the compensation range. This is something they will be able to take back with them and it will keep your needs in front of them. The personal relationships that you develop in this setting can pay great dividends as well.

Keep track of specialties and programs at different schools.

It is not likely you are going to find your next accounting professional from the local welding school. But each school has areas of expertise, and the more that you know about what programs they offer and what training they provide, the better you can hone your search for prospective employees.

The more tightly focused the requirements of a particular position are, the more likely a specialty training program at a school will create a student with skills and knowledge to fill it. The time that you spend informing yourself about the school’s programs, the easier you will find it to evaluate the potential hires you interview.

There are many positions that require will more experience than a current student or recent graduate will be able to offer. But for those positions that can be filled by newer workers, tapping into the local schools in your area can be a great help to your job hunt.

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