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For employers, class is in session

Some 7,700 Northeastern students are on track to go on co-op in 2013, but many jobs will still go unfilled.

“If there are more jobs than students, it is incumbent on you to brand yourselves and find a way to stand out and compete,” said John Flato, the vice president of advisory services for Universum, an employer branding company that surveys students from hundreds of colleges about their career goals and impressions of some of the world’s top employers.

Flato directed his remarks to representatives from co-op employers who attended Northeastern’s annual Employer Roundtable, which was held in the Raytheon Amphitheater on Tuesday morning. Hosted by the university’s Office of Career Services, the event aimed to help companies attract Northeastern students to co-op or full-time positions through informational presentations by employee branding and recruitment marketing experts. The majority of the session focused on ways businesses could work to improve their reputation with young job seekers.

Today’s students, Flato said, are looking for a stable job in a creative work environment in which they feel respected by their employer. Northeastern students are particularly interested in careers in an innovative environment with leadership opportunities.

“Our students are really sought after,” Maria Stein, the university’s director of career services, told the co-op employers in her opening remarks. “That’s good news for students, but more of a challenge for you guys.”

Yael Jones, Johnson & Johnson’s manager of recruitment marketing, pointed to the healthcare conglomerate’s “Be Vital” campaign as an example of how employers can successfully engage potential job seekers. According to Universum’s surveys, Northeastern students engage employers most often through career fairs, campus visits, employer websites, and social and professional networks.

“What’s important about a brand is that people live and breathe it,” Jones said. “It needs to come across during every phase of the recruiting process, not just on a human resources website.”

Johnson & Johnson—which has more than 250 companies in 57 countries around the world—has been able to dedicate financial and personnel resources to its employer brand, but it’s also possible for small companies to fine-tune their employer reputation, according to both Jones and Flato.

“The first thing to do is understand your candidate,” Jones said. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be as impactful as possible.”