With high youth unemployment rates and loads of student debt, the picture for university graduates in 2014 did not look promising. To address this problem, Western launched the hirewesternu campaign with goals of increasing the number of employment and work integrated learning opportunities for students and simplifying the recruiting experience for employers.
The campaign started with an intentional story about Western talent. Employers say our students are high achieving, community engaged, research oriented, entrepreneurial, global ready and leaders of tomorrow. The campaign was grounded by these six attributes.
A streamlined pathway for employers with clear access points, including a dedicated website and centralized telephone and email mechanisms, followed.
Proactive outreach was seen as the cornerstone of the campaign, and an employer call campaign was developed targeting small and medium-sized organizations, Western alumni, award-winning companies, and businesses on student wish lists.
Emphasis was placed on assessing the talent needs of the organization, offering customized solutions and increasing awareness of internship, co-op, and practicum programs, as well as on-campus recruiting activities.
Since the launch of the hirewesternu campaign, the number of employers participating in on-campus recruiting activities (e.g., job postings, interviews, information sessions, fairs) increased profoundly. The number of students in work integrated learning experiences also grew, in direct support of Western’s strategic plan.
While the employer outreach and promotion continues, the student-facing side of the campaign launched in spring 2017. This campaign shows students the importance of the six attributes, and provides additional information and resources about how to build their resume in these areas to effectively market themselves to employers.
McMaster University took note of the innovative work happening at Western and nominated the campaign for a national award. Last spring, the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) recognized the hirewesternu campaign with an Outstanding Achievement Award for major definable contributions to the fields of career planning and recruitment. Since then, Western has consulted and offered advice to universities and colleges around the world interested in their best practices.
With the provincial prioritization of work integrated learning activities for all postsecondary students, the hirewesternu campaign will continue to position Western students for success. It provides robust access to experiential learning opportunities, and prepares students for the demands of today’s changing workforce, ensuring their long-term labour market success.
Jeff Watson is the Associate Director (Employer Relations) within the Student Success Centre: Careers, Leadership and Experience.