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Sourcing Skilled Talent through School Partnerships

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Finding skilled job candidates in a historically tight employment market is no easy task. Skilled recruiters know that they have to go above and beyond to source top candidates and create a sustainable talent pipeline. We asked a number of experienced Aerotek representatives for inside tips on how they continuously find skilled job seekers

Speaking to business students in North Carolina

Practice Lead Darren Brady and his team in North Carolina have had excellent results from strong relationships they’ve built and sustained with the two nearby universities. Brady and his colleagues regularly speak to classes of business students, make presentations and participate in mock interviews to help develop the students’ skills in preparing for real-world situations.

“Our presentations have evolved over the years in response to feedback from the students and university administration,” Brady says. “The students are increasingly requesting more sophisticated information, like how to position themselves as attractive job candidates, how to successfully navigate the workplace and how to network,” he says.


The investment in time and resources is more than worth it, according to Brady. While he and his team are on campus, they’re scouting top talent and creating a larger pool of work-ready candidates for the Aerotek clients who are hiring savvy, well-prepared workers just like the ones Brady is supporting through his work on campus.

New program earns $1.1 million grant in California

The disparity between supply and demand for skilled trades workers has never been greater, but Aerotek Account Manager David Lobato is doing more than his share to close that gap in California. Lobato saw the looming issue when a local engineering firm reported that more than one-third of its workforce would be retiring in the ensuing five years. He reached out to Skyline College with the idea of creating a facilities/operations curriculum to train new workers and provide continuing education and certification to current workers. Armed with this information, Skyline applied for and received a $1.1 million grant to create the program, which is projected to launch this fall.

“For many students today, it’s a great alternative to a four-year degree. With this program, they can be out in the workforce in two years with an in-demand skillset and a promising future,” Lobato says.

Supporting skilled trades in Kentucky

As most employers know, the U.S. is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in decades, hitting 3.8 percent in May. In the skilled trades, that number is often even lower. That’s one reason why Practice Lead Neily Horan and her team began talks with a welding school near their Kentucky office.

Horan first connected with the school’s administration and began providing support to the professors and their classes, answering questions and conducting mock interviews. She was able to connect students with Aerotek clients who were interested in job candidates who had skills but no industry experience at that point. Her clients were also able to provide insight on what kind of additional skills and proficiencies the students could benefit from; feedback the school’s professors were more than willing to incorporate into their curricula.

The effort has been a success for all involved. The students have a connection to employers in the real world, the school places more graduates into jobs (a key metric for them) and Aerotek keeps its pipeline full to support its clients looking for skilled trades talent.

Blitz interviews score success in Georgia

In Georgia, Account Executive Lisa Nash and her team have built relationships with an extensive network of colleges, government organizations and economic development organizations to help connect clients and job seekers. One component of their outreach includes leveraging the resources and opportunities available to jurisdictions via the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), which can provide financial resources to companies that hire underemployed job seekers or those who need training.

Nash also has forged deep connections with regional and local economic development authorities, often lending her expertise in local workforce statistics, labor supply and demand and market trends. And she has her finger on the pulse of business activity that indicates a need for staffing support, whether it’s a current company expanding or a new employer entering the market. “There is a sweet spot for these companies when they need to have a staffing strategy in place and being executed in order for all the other phases of development to happen,” notes Nash.

And if an existing business has to downsize or close, she and her team are well-equipped to help with transitioning employees into new positions so that they experience the least amount of disruption in their careers.

Beginning long-term relationships in Minnesota

For the past five years, Aerotek Account Manager Jim Johnson and his team have established strong relationships with a number of local and regional technical schools near his Minnesota office. He too has developed a consistent program of presentations aimed at educating tech school students on what to expect post-graduation.

“They ask all kinds of questions, from what to include in their resumes to what they should wear to an interview,” Johnson notes. “That way we begin the relationship that can last for years – not only helping them find their first job, but their second and third jobs as well.”

Demand for skilled trades talent in his market is so competitive, Johnson says, that top-performing students often receive offers before they even graduate.

Want to know more about Aerotek strategies to attract top talent? Contact us now.