DAVID IS A HUMAN RESOURCE EXECUTIVE IN THE AREAS OF TALENT RETENTION, ACQUISITION & DEVELOPMENT

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Finding a job is a little like matchmaking. Graduates are looking for recruiters with jobs, and recruiters are looking for the best graduates. But meeting a recruiter is challenging and might take some effort. As with most relationships, however, if you make the effort to learn a bit about recruiters and where they like to hang out, you should get a good return on your investment.

Most graduates know the general places to meet recruiters--job fairs, job-posting Web sites, company-posting Web sites, and on-campus interview sessions. But, are you going to the places that will yield the best results? Is an hour on monsterboard.com more productive than an hour spent at a career fair sponsored by your university?

Recruiters prefer to go to the places where they can meet candidates, of which--at least as far as science graduates go--monsterboard.com is not one. So, where are they? This article will give you the inside track on the best places to meet recruiters.

Large Crowds

One way to meet new people is to go where large numbers of people gather. But it is just as difficult for recruiters to spot talent in a large crowd as it is for you to stand out. So, good recruiters tend not to use Web sites that have millions of resumes because they find it takes more effort to find the right candidate. Even with electronic filtering tools they still end up wading through hundreds or thousands of resumes. Would you want to wade through hundreds of people in order to meet the 'right' one? Or would you prefer to go somewhere you can meet fewer people but are more likely to find the type of person you are looking for? The latter, right? It is the same for me and for the other recruiters I know: We prefer to spend time on Web sites that have smaller numbers of resumes that more closely match the qualifications we are seeking.

Insider's Tip #1: Specialized Web sites are good.

Recruiters go to Web sites that specialize in the type of background they are searching for in candidates. Some of these include www.chemjobs.net, www.jobspectrum.org, and (of course) recruit.sciencemag.org .

Recruiters also go to their company's own job-posting Web site. A new Web portal, www.directemployers.com can help job seekers find those company sites. It also provides tools that let job seekers target their efforts to those specific companies at which you particularly want to "meet" recruiters.

Professional Conferences

Recruiters often go to professional organization conferences and symposia, including regional and state meetings. Like more narrowly focused job sites, these conferences offer recruiters the opportunity to meet candidates with the types of backgrounds they are seeking. And many offer a placement center or career expo for this express purpose. But, if you want to differentiate yourself from the others who are looking to meet the "right" recruiter, then you need to use the opportunity to build a relationship with that recruiter. For more ideas on how to do this you might want to read Networking: Making a Good Connection.

An increasing number of recruiters also attend conferences on specific scientific topics, as opposed to general disciplinary ones. The more specific the topic in your field, the better your chances to match the needs of a recruiter at that conference.

But how do you figure out which conference to go to--there are so many from which to choose? One way is to browse Science magazine's on-line list of scientific conferences or look at the printed version, which generally comes out in a December issue of the magazine. Your professors can also be a good source of suggestions for symposia or conferences to attend.

Once you've figured out which conference to go to and are actually there, the challenge is to make contact with recruiters, given that so many others are trying to do the same.

Insider's Tip #2: Recruiters appreciate those who help them.

When you are at the conference look for ways to help. Recruiters are often seeking people with different skills. Determine the type of skills the recruiters are looking for and introduce them to someone who has a skill set that is different from yours but that better fits the needs of the recruiter. This way you are helping and building a positive rapport with the recruiter.

Make a Place to Meet

Recruiters are always looking for places to meet reasonable numbers of high-quality candidates. When I was doing recruiting it was rare that a student group invited our group to meet with them. But the few times that did happen I always found a way for a recruiter to meet them.

Insider's Tip #3: Make a date.

Show initiative by working with a group of students and faculty in your discipline and send an invitation to a company to send a recruiter to come meet with you on your campus. For more ideas on this approach see my article on Are Job Fairs Fair.

Where the Recruiters Are

Recruiters also attend conferences and seminars for their profession. At these conferences, you will find hundreds of recruiters. This is an untapped opportunity--most job seekers have not recognized that these events are also a great opportunity to meet recruiters. The conferences and seminars can be for general recruiters or they can be specialized. One such large general conference is the Electronic Recruiting Expo 2003 West. Another is the Strategies in Recruiting and Retaining World-Class Talent conference, which is sponsored by Hunt Scanlon. By looking on the Internet, you can also find more specialized conferences such as the fall Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) human resources conference. Historically, the largest gathering of recruiters has been the Employment Management Association annual conference. The Society for Human Resource Management Web site has a comprehensive list of conferences likely to attract recruiters.

Insider's Tip #4: Go to the Recruiter's Meeting

The challenge in going to these meetings is that the recruiters are not necessarily expecting to encounter potential recruits. But good recruiters are always looking for talent. Traveling to one of these conferences offers several advantages: You will have very little competition, you can meet several recruiters in a single spot, and the recruiter may remember you because you have shown initiative and have been creative. You can learn more about how to make the best of attending such a meeting by reading this article about networking.

Dare to Be Different

The job market can be a tough place these days. It is not a time to rely exclusively on traditional opportunities to talk to a recruiter--you have to go to where the recruiters are. It will take some research, so talk to your professors and to people who work at companies with recruiters. And visit Web sites targeted to recruiting professionals and recruiters themselves. With this information you can get the Insider's Edge on meeting a recruiter and getting a job.