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As fall approaches, organizations begin to prepare their college recruiting programs. Today, more than ever before, companies will need a strategic plan to create success.

"Students of today have more choices compared to the past six years, and they are beginning to realize it," said Eric Spell, president of "College recruiting programs can be an organization's best asset to recruiting the top talent at this level or the largest detriment to the effort."

This is a critical step that is often overlooked. Evaluate the roles that you routinely hire for and develop a list of questions you can ask potential colleges and universities to better understand if they are an appropriate source of top talent. Do the positions require a 4-year degree or does a 2-year degree apply? What major(s) would result in the educational skills and qualifications necessary? How many students does the university have in that program? Once you've identified your list of questions, research the schools of interest.

Narrow down the number of schools based on your needs and resources. The main goal for an effective college recruiting program is to identify schools that you can build a lasting relationship with. An effective on-campus employer brand doesn't happen overnight.

While most of us limit our involvement on campus to the career fair, there are a number of ways to help enhance your recruiting capabilities.

"Tyson Foods regularly visited our classes and offered a corporate tour of their headquarters in Arkansas," said Kaye Strohbehn, a recent graduate of South Dakota State. "It was neat to see things at the corporate level. Tyson is definitely a company that I would now consider working for."

Get to know the career service professional on campus, whether they are specific to agriculture or over all majors. It is important to get to know them because they can put you in touch with further helpful contacts on campus. The possibilities are endless, it just takes some creativity.

Timing of your visits is everything. For example, if you are interested in animal production majors, don't plan a campus visit when the livestock judging team is out-of-town. Also, avoid scheduling things during dead week, mid-terms and finals.

The career fair is where your efforts pay off ... you are almost there, don't blow it now!
•'; Register early to be included on all of the promotional material.
•'; Send alumni to represent your company. Train them to handle questions without redirecting the student to human resources.
•'; Ask/pay a former intern to represent the company at the booth.
•'; Have staff that is interested in being there - don't read the paper or hide behind the booth on your Blackberry.
•'; Be clear on your hiring needs and the process.
•'; Take time to answer the student's questions • don't just direct them to the Web site.
•'; Ask your career services contact for feedback.

Visit for a list of agricultural and other relative career fairs in North America. For more information on college recruiting, contact at

Over the past 12 months, we have seen a dramatic shift in the acceptance of the Internet and information technology as a terrific enabler for information flow in the agricultural marketplace.

"We have an interesting perspective on how the Internet is being adopted in the agriculture and food industry," says Joe Dales, Vice President at, "In 1996, the potential of the Internet as a tool for agriculture was challenged by everyone. Farmers didn't have time, computers or any need. Ten years later we do not hear any of that and now we think about where we will be after the next ten years."

Over the past ten years and hundreds of Internet projects we wanted to share our experience-tested strategic approach to the agri Internet opportunity. Our planning process is to develop a vision for the Internet project, set hard objectives, and three major strategies - contnet, community, sales. The next few articles will better define why we have organized our approach this way.

For additional information, visit the Media site at, or contact Joe Dales at; 877/438-5729 ext 5013.

U.S. Ag HR Roundtable
August 7-9, 2006
St. Louis, MO

Canadian Ag HR Roundtable
September 26-28, 2006
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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