Career fairs: How some companies 'precruit' (sidebar)

How recruiters work the career fair

Showing strong interest in MSU packaging students is electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. The company is currently support
Showing strong interest in MSU packaging students is electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. The company is currently support

Carter Wallace looks for interns at both MSU and at Rutgers, the New Jersey university that's not far from Carter Wallace's headquarters in Cranbury, NJ. "Typically we find the best interns at MSU," says Ren Klawson, Carter's director of package development. "However, we didn't fare too well at this year's career fair. I made a number of offers, but these students were getting offers so quickly, I couldn't compete. I usually do my interviewing and then make an offer within a couple of days. I ended up making offers to three or four candidates, but all of them had committed elsewhere." MSU has the best curriculum, Klawson says. "Rutgers has its strengths, too, especially in the technical areas. I have a Rutgers intern right now. Interns have been a great success for us, and I've been doing it for a long time. We plan to be out there [at MSU] this fall to look for another candidate for January to June '99." Even well-resourced Kraft Foods recognizes there is greater competition for students. "I can tell you there's definitely more competition for the good candidates," says Richard Kaufman, associate technology principal at Kraft Foods. "There were 70 companies there this spring. That's amazing! I've seen the fair grow from a small hall. Now it requires much bigger quarters." Kraft's biggest obstacle, according to Kaufman, "is simply in talking to everyone we want to. Once we get to do that, and tell them what we have to offer, we're usually successful. We make it very, very appealing to them." Kaufman says that Kraft's team of five packaging people gives it a distinct advantage over companies like Carter Wallace. "We have an experienced team who recognize potential candidates quickly. One day at MSU is basically a shoulder-rubbing day, where we're trying to get our interview time slots filled. Because we bring five people, it gives us more interview times." Kraft's "network" helps, too. Often former co-op students recommend new candidates. And Kaufman is personally involved with the school. "I sit on MSU's advisory group for food and pharmaceutical packaging research, so I'm tied to the students in a way other than just being a recruiter. That helps us in learning about students we need to talk with." The last couple of years Kraft has had seven co-ops from MSU at both sites, Glenview, IL, and Tarrytown, NY. This is because MSU has so many more people to choose from, compared to other schools that Kraft visits. "The best people from MSU generally turn out to be the best candidates for us to hire as full-time workers," Kaufman says unequivocally. "If you look around our packaging organization worldwide, you'll see a large number of MSU grads." The overall number of co-ops at Kraft varies, so Kaufman says it's hard to discern a trend. This program has been used by Kraft for about 20 years. "We always have co-ops-always," he stresses. "The labor supply/demand curve doesn't really affect this program, because our co-op program has been so helpful to us in identifying candidates for new full-timers."

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