Improving the Recruiting Process

Article excerpt

IMPROVING THE RECRUITING PROCESS

Competition for accounting graduates is so strong that some college seniors are involved in job-hunting activities almost daily during the fall recruiting season. Unfortunately, these recruiting activities often result in poor academic performance and senior burnout. This article discusses the problems students, recruiters and colleges face and describes our school's solution.

INCREASED RECRUITING EFFORTS

Recruiters have developed a number of techniques to attract graduating accounting students. In addition to encouraging students to participate in campus interviews and visit firm offices, they also may

* Hold receptions on the evening before campus interviews.

* Invite students to dinner after interviews.

* Sponsor campus programs and ask prospects to attend firm functions or meals afterward.

* Invite seniors to a midweek sporting event.

* Ask students to return to firm offices after the initial visit and interviews.

Recruiters may use membership rosters of honor organizations to choose the most attractive candidates for these offers. While perhaps flattering and exciting for the students, these additional recruiting activities can cause problems. Having learned of competitors' techniques, each recruiter may feel compelled to organize similar programs. Such activities, however, are expensive in terms of both employee time and cash outlay.

Small accounting firms, in particular, may be frustrated by the intense competition. Even though they may offer compensation, benefits and working conditions comparable to those of bigger firms, they may not have large recruiting budgets. Even for firms that can afford expensive recruiting activities, the incremental return may be marginal. Seniors may be unimpressed and even put off by intense recruiting efforts.

EFFECTS ON STUDENTS

As firms jockey for their attention, students, believing they should participate in as many recruiting functions as possible, may have difficulty balancing academics and job-hunting activities. Consequently, accounting seniors may spend a disproportionate amount of time in the job-hunting process, at the expense of their studies. These activities frequently contribute to student burnout that continues into the final semester.

Recruiting efforts certainly are not the only cause of problems for accounting students in their senior year--coursework alone can cause stress. Even in the best of circumstances, the recruiting season can complicate schedules already filled with classes, assignments and exams. Although developing time management skills is part of the academic process, some students are not yet adept at setting priorities.

CAREER IMPLICATIONS

Unfortunately, these recruiting practices can adversely affect some students even after graduation. First, the social atmosphere at recruiting functions may unduly influence a student's employment decision. While communication and social skills are important, some students may give more weight to these factors than to the firm's technical competence and reputation.

Second, students may develop false impressions of the day-to-day work in public accounting. Recruits believe their relationship with a firm will be unchanged after employment begins. Consequently, they may overestimate their relative value to their future employers. They may experience a phenomenon sometimes referred to as "reality shock" as a result. It can cause dissatisfaction and may partially explain the high turnover rates experienced by some firms.

GUIDELINES FOR RECRUITING

Because of these concerns, faculty members at some universities have worked with accounting firms to develop recruiting guidelines. …