6 Ways a Co-op Office Can Help You Recruit Student Talent

Attracting students for work placements can improve your overall recruitment strategy, particularly if the skills you’re looking for are in high demand. TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program is here to offer you a wage subsidy and with the help of a co-op office, you can zero in on students with the right skills for the role, get smart about your strategy and even connect with students in areas you might have never considered before.

“Many employers have realized that being engaged with a co-op program helps them find solutions,” says Jean-Philippe Boutet, a co-op program coordinator at the University of Ottawa.

We talked with Boutet about how you can work with co-op offices and TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program to recruit students and grow your talent pipeline—here’s his top advice.

1.    Build Connections with Co-op Coordinators

“We do outreach to our employers to remind them that key dates are approaching, and to see if they’re ready to post a job and recruit students. In many cases, employers appreciate that proactiveness,” says Boutet. He also notes that co-op coordinators can manage expectations if an employer is beginning recruitment late in the process, when the students that are still available may be less experienced.

If you’re not sure who to contact at a particular post-secondary institution, Boutet recommends emailing or calling the general co-op office, they’re adept at connecting you with the right coordinator, who can provide the best information about student recruitment, program requirements for work placements, funding and more.

2.    Expand Your Scope

The shift to remote work has made it more practical than ever to recruit students from across the country, which means new opportunities to build relationships with co-op offices nationally. Connecting with co-op coordinators who work with programs that are most aligned with your needs and what you can provide to students will help you recruit the right students for the roles you’re looking to fill.

And be sure to keep non-local students in mind, even after we return to the office, says Boutet. “Many employers tend to be locally focused because it’s what they know—there’s a school nearby that provides co-op services or students that would be available for internships and summer jobs. But then when they get in touch with us, we explain that some students are willing to relocate for a period of time, and that often helps them to take a wider approach and to consider working with schools across the country.”

3.    Learn How to Make Your Job Posting Stand Out

“We provide quite a bit of advice and guidance on job postings and recruitment strategy,” says Boutet.

Boutet pays close attention to job postings. “The quality of a job posting goes a long way,” he says, adding that he filters out postings that aren’t professional enough. “Let’s say someone had a job posting with three sentences—it doesn’t show that the employer cares. For me, seeing that you’re not putting much effort into your job posting, well, how is it going to be when you actually take on a student? Are you going to be providing a good experience? Are you going to be supporting that student?”

Keep in mind that the best students in highly sought-after programs—like Boutet’s own software engineering program at uOttawa—have a lot of choice when it comes to internships, so employers need to be strategic.

“It’s a competitive field when you’re wanting the best students available,” says Boutet, noting that this is another area where co-op coordinators can offer a lot of useful advice. “Sometimes it’s just helping employers showcase some of the things they can offer students, the experience and the culture they have there, or the technology they have that the student will be working on.” Boutet also helps employers set a reasonable salary based on the type of experience they’re looking for in students.

4.    Participate in Virtual Career Fairs

Like most events, university and college career fairs and networking events went virtual in 2020, and it opened up opportunities for companies in other regions, provinces and territories that might not have had the travel budget to attend an in-person event. Co-op placement coordinators can let you know when virtual career fairs are coming up, and how you can participate.

“Quite a few students are very excited at the opportunity to go and connect with employers,” says Boutet, who feels that Career Fairs offer valuable opportunities for businesses. “It’s really a great way to meet with students and showcase what you can offer them.”

5.    Get Interviewing Advice

If you find that students who have interviewed with you choose to go elsewhere, you might need to look at how you’re interviewing, says Boutet. “An engineer that has 30 years of experience may not be the best person to conduct interviews because they may not be able to connect with youth.”

Instead, Boutet recommends employers have current interns participate in the interview, so they can speak to their experience working there and bridge the gap between a student and a seasoned director or executive. If you don’t have an intern at that time, then a junior employee is another good option for someone the student can connect with.

6.    Find Out About Funding Options

Co-op coordinators have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to funding for student work experiences, including an understanding of which programs and applications are easier (or more challenging) to navigate. “It could be fairly daunting for some employers to apply—there are a lot of different organizations that provide grants and funding,” notes Boutet. “I recommend TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program for just about anyone in the tech sector because they have a good process, and they support employers very well.”

Learn more about how the TECHNATION Career Ready Program can work for you.