AfterCollege’s Employer Popularity Index turns college recruiting into a popularity contest

By Michael Carney , written on December 19, 2012

From The News Desk

Companies large and small pour millions of dollars into attracting and recruiting top talent. But other than the ultimate “scoreboard” of hires made, it’s difficult to gauge the effectiveness of these efforts. Ideally, companies would have a constant understanding of the sentiment among potential employees toward their brand. University-focused, professional social network AfterCollege appears to have created such a metric with its Employee Popularity Index.

The San Francisco startup has collected employer preferences from more than 363,000 current college students to date and used this data to rank the top 500 most desired places of employment. According to AfterCollege, the Index uses a proprietary algorithm to normalize the data and then rank the companies in what it describes as the largest and most transparent measure of student employer demand in the US.

As of mid-November, the most coveted employer among “tech students” was Google, with the rest of the Top 10 rounded out by Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Apple, Amazon, NSA, Facebook, NVIDIA Corporation, and AT&T. Limit the respondents to only “engineering students” and Boeing moves to the top of the list, follower by Intel, Lockheed Martin, GE, Raytheon, and NASA, rounding out the Top 5. Similar lists are available for “business students,” “nursing students,” and “allied health” students.

For companies looking to apply insights from these rankings to their marketing and recruiting efforts, the data can be further parsed on a school-specific or company-specific basis. As a result, employers can determine at which schools their popularity is the greatest, and where they might have some work to do. Similarly, potential employees can determine how likely they are to face competition for a coveted position from members of their own graduating class.

The data in the Employee Popularity Index and elsewhere on the site is viewable for free by both employers and students, however employers pay the company various subscription rates for premium features, including job posting and the ability to message student job seekers directly.

AfterCollege was founded in late 1999 while its co-founders Roberto Angulo and Brian Heifferon were at Stanford and raised limited angel funding in 2000, which enabled it to reach profitability by 2001, after which it has been self-sustaining. The company raised an undisclosed Series A round from Flywheel Ventures in 2011 to accelerate growth.

On LinkedIn, students rightfully fear not having enough relevant career information to complete an impressive profile, and suffer from a lack of existing professional connections to build a network on the social network. By removing each of these obstacles and connecting soon to be graduates with a pre-existing network of alumni, faculty, and recruiters seeking individuals in their specific schools and departments, AfterCollege was able to attract more than 3 million student job seekers last year alone.

For employers, AfterCollege is among the best ways to shortcut many of the labor intensive university department relationship building and student market research functions that would otherwise absorb the resources of HR departments. By offering a list of exclusive tools for sourcing and evaluating young talent, AfterCollege is making itself increasingly valuable to employers. And given the challenges finding work in today’s climate, students may need to watch for out of work alumni looking to make use of the service.