HUNTSVILLE, Ala., (Feb. 11, 2014) -- Innovation and change are constants for recruiters. Prior to the new academic year, recruiters are focused on planning and preparation. College career centers can be high value assets for recruiters.Successful recruiting centers gauge opportunities in postsecondary schools to include career centers. Engagement and shaping operations that include career centers greatly expand and inform the student market.Many college career centers are leveraging cyber, virtual and internet communications to inform students of career opportunities. Universities are experiencing similar challenges in communicating career opportunities and education pathways. Career centers assist students and graduates in developing career action plans. The action plans include the following:• Analysis of career choices • Developing educational pathways • Networking to leverage relationships • A process for receiving job postings or school incentives • Identifying faculty members willing to helpRecently, I spoke with Travis Railsback, director of the career center at the University of Alabama, who provided insight and recommendations on how to improve how our recruiters operate on campus. For those tasked with recruiting college graduates, partnering with a university's career center should be central to an organization's talent acquisition strategy.Most career centers provide opportunities for organizations to connect with qualified students through a variety of means including career fairs, on-campus interviews and job posting sites. Additionally, career centers often actively seek partnership opportunities with organizations willing to come to campus and engage students as a partner in the career education process. Students recognize the commitment these companies are making to their own personal development and often seek out these organizations as desirable places to work.Recruiting budgets are tight and as a result companies are looking for ways to maximize their return on investment at individual colleges and universities. Therefore, effectively connecting with students who match up academically and on a competency level is critical.Career centers often have the means to quickly identify students who meet specific criteria to include what is his or her major, desired grade point average and graduate date. This information allows organizations to customize and distribute messages to target student populations.One of the most common expectations of the current generation of students is the desire for continuous professional development. Organizations that possess established professional development programs and articulate these opportunities to candidates have the opportunity to set themselves apart. How about Army residency and fellowship opportunities?Students are beginning to think beyond just about how much money they'll earn and are becoming more tuned in to the concept of total compensation. Organizations' benefits package, tuition reimbursement and training opportunities are an equally important part of the equation when recruiting today's college students.Not surprisingly, students spend a significant amount of time with faculty. As a result, strong relationships with professors are essential to effective college recruiting. Work through an institution's career center to help make these valuable introductions. There is likely no better advocate for your organization than that of a faculty member. Be strategic and intentional in building these relationships.During our conversation, Railsback revealed his parents are employed at Fort Rucker. His father, John, is a retired Army master sergeant. At our universities, we should identify faculty members with prior military service and those with a propensity to support the Army. It is this sense of family and camaraderie that make Army medical careers a first choice.Staff Sgt. Freddy Dillard, healthcare recruiter, Birmingham Medical Center, has already formed a partnership with Railsback and the university's career center. Dillard said, interaction with the career center keeps recruiters attune to the evolving school curriculum/programs. The recruiter is aware of educational pathways. Moreover, it enables communications with students with the best skill set and test scores - Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) above 24.The evolving use of ListServe, a email software that allows the sender to reach a large number of people, improves communications and passes large amounts of career data to users. Students are better informed. The use of career services websites offers the recruiter the opportunity to reach both students and graduates.We are looking for the best and most feasible ways to attract medical professionals. The career center serves as a hub for recruiters and student activity. The center's step-by-step student assistance is focused on the right program, best career choice, and recognition of associated costs. Recruiters interact with the staff and look for ways to participate in posting/signing, advising, and participation in events and career fairs. I believe interaction with career centers can help achieve mission requirements and enhance our image on campus. We are observing increased opportunity and less cost with virtual career fairs. We communicate and network to promote Army Medicine as a first career choice. Planning and partnership with college career centers expands our student market, communicates career opportunities, and increases return on investment. Our recruiters better understand the school environment. The engagement and shaping operations at the career center help us promote 76 medical career fields and achieve our significant healthcare mission.In summary, interaction with the career center is a smart way to attract the best qualified medical applicants. The career center is certainly a high-value asset. Not only can the center's advisors prepare an action plan for students, they can also help recruiters develop an effective school recruiting program.