WetFeet Recruitment Survey: Surging Student Confidence Drives Intense Employer Competition for Top Candidates

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WetFeet's just-released Student Recruitment Report based on a survey of more than 2,500 undergraduates and MBAs from top schools reveals that candidates are once again in high demand - they are applying to fewer firms, getting higher compensation offers, and accepting positions earlier in the recruiting cycle.

Graduates from top undergrad and MBA programs are back in the driver's seat, according to WetFeet's Student Recruitment Report 2005. Not since the boon of the late 1990s have students applied to fewer companies, received more and better offers, and made employment decisions so early in the traditional fall and spring recruiting cycle.

WetFeet's 7th annual survey of student recruiting reveals critical information about the recruiting tactics of employers at top-tier undergrad and business schools and how they are responding to the increased competition and shift in demand for top talent.

“This year's survey reveals that candidates are becoming much more savvy and selective about where they apply and ultimately choose to work,” said Steve Pollock, president of WetFeet, Inc. and author of the report. “This surge in student confidence is forcing recruiters to significantly increase their on-campus efforts and really raise their level of performance.”

The Student Recruitment Report 2005, fielded in April/May 2005, includes responses from more than 2,500 undergraduate, MBA and graduate school candidates at top-tier schools. New this year are three focused reports that delve deep into the recruiting and hiring practices of firms in Financial Services, Management Consulting, and Consumer Products Goods/Pharmaceutical industries.

The survey demonstrates significantly increased competition for talent as more companies hired more students this year. The top 15 companies hired an average of 26.8 students who responded to WetFeet's survey, compared to 16.5 just a year ago. Leading in hiring was McKinsey & Co., which hired 63 candidates in the survey population, up from 21 in 2004.

Even though students are applying to fewer firms, the average number of offers received by students at top-tier schools increased for the third straight year with undergrads seeing an 18% jump in average number of offers received, and MBAs seeing an 11% increase. Since a low point in 2001-2002, the average number of offers for undergraduates and MBAs has increased more than 60%. Increasing competition is reducing yield-on-offers and forcing employers to work harder to reach their hiring targets.

Students ranked McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group and Bain Co. as the top three management consulting firms they'd most like to work for. For financial services, Goldman Sachs was first, Morgan Stanley second and Citigroup third. For consumer products goods/pharmaceutical, students rated Johnson & Johnson first, Procter & Gamble second and Nike third.

The Student Recruitment Report 2005 provides a strong case for the importance of effective campus information sessions and word-of-mouth marketing. In particular, by recounting student horror stories from the interview process, it gives examples of things that employers must be sure to avoid.

“Surprisingly, the most vulnerable time for the employer is during the campus information session and personal interview. Traditionally these are high-pressure moments for the candidates, but it's amazing how many candidates decide to pursue employment or look elsewhere based on their personal interaction with a company representative,” Pollock said.

Students recounted “worse experiences” that included one interviewer asking a candidate if she had modeled, to someone who repeatedly took calls on his cell phone during an interview. Another candidate was given a mere 30 seconds to convince the recruiter to give him the job, and another candidate reported being probed about her childhood.

“In today's competitive market, one particularly bad recruiter can destroy thousands of dollars of brand-building by becoming the punchline in a nightmare interview story that ricochets around campus. Even the top companies need to get an understanding of what students are saying about them in order to maintain their reputations,” Pollock said.

WetFeet's Student Recruitment Report is unique for its in-depth focus on recruiting by industry, and also its expert recommendations on how companies can use the data to more effectively compete for top candidates. The main report and special industry focus reports are included in an annual subscription or can be purchased individually at http://www.wetfeetresearch.com.

WetFeet Research & Consulting is the authoritative resource for factual data, emerging trends and informed strategy on effective talent recruiting including sourcing, screening, evaluation, campus recruiting, online recruiting, diversity and retention. WetFeet also provides recruiting software and marketing services to top employers.

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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Suzy McKee