Troy, N.Y. --Transfinder recruiter Patrick Longo discovered a major roadblock when he attended a recent job fair in search of talented students from Albany, New York area colleges.
Students weren't familiar with Transfinder, the Schenectady bus routing software development company. Many were headed to speak with representatives from more well known companies down the aisle.
"You have to pitch [students] on why they should be here," said Longo, Transfinder's director of talent acquisition. Longo told his story during a panel discussion Tuesday focused on recruiting and retaining college graduates in the region.
A second challenge that many companies face in the region is segmentation, Longo said. He recounted an interview with a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student who had never left the Troy area and wasn't aware of opportunities in neighboring cities.
Longo and the team at Transfinder plan to increase their staff from 77 employees to about 90 by the end of 2014. The company is expanding into new markets. Revenue has grown from $7.9 million in 2012 to $8.6 million last year.
Longo spoke during a forum organized by the Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities. The event was held at Russell Sage College in Troy. Fellow panel members included Fred Erlich, the chief executive officer at Living Resources; Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Center for Economic Growth; and Suzanne Wolff, who leads the university relations program at GlobalFoundries, a computer chip manufacturer which has a factory in nearby Malta.
Wolff stressed that colleges need to encourage students to join campus activities and seek leadership roles so they stand out in the interview process. Wolff spoke with the Business Review about how her team hired new college graduates last month. Soft skills also are important, she said.
"If [students] can't hold a conversation or look me in the eye and shake hands, they won't do well in the interview or the company," she said.