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For Employers

READY TO HIRE? Liberal arts colleges are the right choice for your organization.
February 16, 2011

In December, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported on the top skills which employers seek from college graduates. While reading the article, I was delighted by what it said. The report essentially documents that the distinctive talents of Bryn Mawr and Haverford students, and liberal arts students in general, are most desirable by employers.

Specifically, the Top Five Candidates Skills/Qualities are:

1.      Verbal Communication Skills
2.      Strong Work Ethic
3.      Teamwork Skills
4.      Analytical Skills
5.      Initiative

Source: Top Skills for Job Candidates, National Association of Colleges and Employers, December 2, 2010

In a recent survey, I asked a small sample of employers why they recruit liberal arts graduates.  The results of the NACE Survey closely match the sentiments of the employers I surveyed.

The Liberal Arts environment, especially at Bryn Mawr & Haverford, is ideal for cultivating all of these highly valued skills.  Through small classes and entirely student-run organizations, our students learn to take initiative and work effectively in groups to accomplish goals. They are responsible for their own success. Through a curriculum that emphasizes discussion and class presentations, culminating in a senior thesis, our students clearly express and defend their ideas. I am constantly impressed as I observe students considering and evaluating their own behavior, while holding each other accountable for maintaining an atmosphere of respect and trust through the Honor Code.

It is easy to see how our students excel in the areas which employers find most desirable. I invite you to consider hiring the talented students and graduates of Bryn Mawr & Haverford!

Sharon M. Powers is Associate Director for Employer Relations at the
Bryn Mawr College & Hav
erford College Career Development Office.
She can be reached at and is on Twitter at @SharonMPowers
Hire Tomorrow’s Lea
ders Today!

Career Development - Bryn Mawr & Haverford


December 1, 2010

In my outreach to employers on behalf of Bryn Mawr College & Haverford College, I am frequently touting the benefits of recruiting and hiring liberal arts graduates. I might talk about any or all of the following:

  • Honed research, writing, and presentation skills
  • Strong leadership ability acquired through student-run organizations with no faculty/staff advisors.
  • Multidisciplinary background and ability to “think outside the box”.
  • Globally oriented perspectives developed both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Flexibility and ability to learn and adapt quickly.

Lately I have been wondering how employers feel about ME telling them why they should hire our graduates. Who am I to say what benefits they bring to an organization?  While I firmly believe in the quality of the education and experience our students possess and am passionate about liberal arts education, I am not charged with hiring, training, and supervising entry-level talent.

It occurred to me to go to the source, ask the employers: Why do you recruit at liberal arts colleges?  And why Bryn Mawr and Haverford in particular?  I was pleased to discover that I was on target.  Even better, I gained greater insight into more specific reasons for hiring liberal arts grads.

Consider the following comments shared by employers representing the fields of finance, sales & marketing, non-profit, government/economics/finance, investment consulting and economic research, on why they recruit at Liberal Arts Colleges:

  • Ability and willingness to quickly learn quantitative and other skills while already possessing the soft skills that sometimes cannot so easily be taught.
  • Diverse backgrounds, knowledge base, and skill set acquired through extensive subject matter and studying abroad allows them to bring new perspectives and ideas to the table.
  • Creative ways of solving problems.
  • Well-rounded with broad perspective of world and appreciation for diversity.
  • Excellent critical-thinking skills, ability to understand and communicate complex ideas, and flexibility to handle a steep learning curve.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills and possible command of several languages.
  • Appreciation of broad range of perspectives and ability to relate well to others developed through active engagement with faculty and other students in teamwork and leadership. Leads to ability to effectively collaborate, resolve conflicts, and contribute in a work environment.
  • Liberal Arts students take initiative and have learned how to learn.
  • Ability to think independently and a high level of intellectual curiosity.

There you have it! I hope that through viewing feedback from your peers on the benefits liberal arts students bring, you will consider adding Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College to your recruiting plan for internships and jobs. I am happy to assist you in developing an individual strategy for targeting our talented students, either through On Campus Recruiting or the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium.

Sharon M. Powers is Associate Director for Employer Relations at the Bryn Mawr College & Haverford College Career Development Office.
She can be reached at and is on Twitter at @SharonMPowers
Hire Tomorrow’s Leaders Today!



If you are reading this, you may know that I have been actively using Twitter to reach out to employers for just over a year.  During that time I have been pleased to initiate conversations with “tweeps” from different organizations regarding the potential of recruiting at Bryn Mawr College & Haverford College. Additionally, the professional contacts that I have made have greatly enhanced my knowledge of the process of recruiting and hiring/training interns and employees.

With great appreciation for the work that you do, I share my first blog post.  From my personal experience, here is my “Top Ten List” of  Employer Best Practices for Recruiting Undergraduate Students.

NUMBER 10: Think beyond the usual schools that your organization has an established recruiting relationship with. Test the waters with a few new ones, even if just through a job posting. With minimal investment, you will likely find some good candidates who will bring a diverse set of talents.

NUMBER 9: Join a professional association which includes employers who seek to hire college students and career services professionals. Benefits include professional development, opportunities to brand your organization, benchmarking, and establishing relationships with career services personnel. As a past Board Member, I recommend the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers ( There are many other excellent opportunities through other regional associations and a national association listed here: .  Find one that best meets your needs and get involved!

NUMBER 8: Establish and maintain an open line of communication with Career Services throughout the recruiting year. Call us if you have questions or concerns.  We also welcome feedback regarding your experience recruiting with us. Smaller liberal arts colleges can often be very flexible in how they assist employers. Wonder if we can do it? Just ask!

NUMBER 7: Make an effort to understand the campus culture and what style of recruiting will be well-received by the college community. Each institution is unique and will respond differently. For example, at my institutions there is a great value on social justice and personal integrity. An employer who approaches students touting a great compensation plan will not be as successful as the employer who also speaks about how the organization is socially responsible while allowing opportunities for advancement. Career Services can help you with this.

NUMBER 6: Create a positive candidate experience. I have seen much discussion around this recently on Twitter. From my perspective, this is especially important when recruiting college students and even more so at smaller liberal arts colleges. The best way to increase interest in your organization and bring the right candidates to apply is often through word of mouth on campus. Students trust each other, and are more likely to investigate opportunities at organizations which other students felt presented them with a positive experience, whether or not they got the job or internship.

NUMBER 5: Maintain a presence on campus, even if you are currently unable to recruit due to the economy. Examples: Offer to do Mock Interviews on campus, serve on an Employer Panel (we do one called “Interviewing From The Employers’ Perspective”), Host an Extern or Informational Day at your organization, or consider hosting a “Career Chat” (either in person or virtual) about your industry.

NUMBER 4: Don’t let distance or tight travel budgets keep you from getting in front of students! We now host Virtual Info Sessions to bring employers face-to-face with our students, even from abroad. Students gather in a room and using technology, are able to listen to and ask questions of employers from a variety of industries.

NUMBER 3: Take advantage of consortia, especially if you are unable to visit many smaller schools individually. Groups such as the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium (, Liberal Arts Career Network and University Career Action Network allow employers to access students from a number of colleges and universities through a single streamlined effort.

NUMBER 2: Let alumnae/i be your ambassadors! Have them write something about their experience with your organization to go along with your job posting. Assign them to represent your organization at on campus events such as Info Sessions or Interviews. An especially effective method is having an alumna/us write a message to students about his/her experience at your organization, invite them to apply, and offer to answer questions. Our students always respond well to this, as is evidenced by significantly higher application numbers.

NUMBER 1: Identify the Employer Relations person at Career Centers and schedule a meeting with them. We know the students and culture at our respective campuses best, and can work with you to develop a recruiting strategy to maximize your outreach and results. I delight in speaking with employers, learning more about their organizations, and offering feedback and suggestions for successful recruiting with my schools. Some of the strongest recruiting relationships with Bryn Mawr and Haverford began with a conversation years ago.

Sharon M. Powers is Associate Director for Employer Relations at the Bryn Mawr College & Haverford College Career Development Office.  She can be reached at and is on Twitter at @SharonMPowers
Hire Tomorrow’s Leaders Today!

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