From the Desktop of Lori Charest, VP, Brand Strategy

February 15

My daughter leaves for college next week.

Getting to this point has been a blur — the typical campus tours, applications, essays and interviews — all layered with countless Facebook postings, digital conversations and texting with friends of friends who went to school there. After all, what 18-year-old would spend four whole years in one place without making sure it was everything promised?

The experience made me realize that we, as employers, can learn a lot from the college recruiting process. Four years feels like a lifetime — so students use every resource, every tool and every opportunity to ensure that the environment they're walking into is one that meets most, if not all, of their expectations. The schools have done a great job at integrating social networking tools into the recruiting process — both online and in person. Want to meet some students, spend a night in the dorm, sit in on a lecture, or talk to a professor? Not a problem. These "brand ambassadors" are more than willing to give prospective candidates their opinions, both good and bad, so they can make an informed choice.

Now transpose this same expectation for transparency to the employment marketplace. Can you really keep the employment promise you've created in your marketing? Do you have brand ambassadors, social media channels or the opportunity for candidates to talk with prospective coworkers? Have you looked at the impact that your current employees can have on your recruiting efforts?

If you haven't started down this path, just think about the fact that the Facebook movie is coming soon to a theater near you. What started as a tool for Harvard students to identify each other is now the way you keep in touch with your grandmother and find out how your brother's best-friend-from-second-grade likes his job at that company where you are interviewing. Oh yeah, you are definitely going to check out his wall posts.

All this leads me to speculate about the college resources used by students today — how will they evolve to business applications in the coming years? Students won't leave these resources behind when they enter the workforce....they'll just adapt them.

Consider: Students today use when planning their class schedules. The site boasts 10 million opinions and rates professors at 6,000 colleges, so it's no wonder that this is the first place students look for information. And believe it or not, the information is insightful and pretty balanced. Can you imagine becoming the place to gain insight on managers? CollegeConfidential offers a forum for practically every college where alumni, students, prospective students, parents and Admissions Officers meet. Have questions about the interview process? Dorm life? The pros and cons of Penn State vs. UConn? Just ask and you can spark a debate that goes on for days. And the good news is that the prospective student sees all viewpoints, not just those sanctioned as presentable by the school.

I think you get my point. Today's brand ambassadors — your employees — deliver a refreshing credibility and transparency. Job seekers depend upon them to give them a true picture of your employment value. If you need help articulating your employment value proposition and mobilizing your brand ambassadors, just let us know. We'll be happy to help.

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