You may not realize it, but if you’re a staffing company in a college town, you have competition you never realized existed. A few quick keyword searches on the web and you’ll see competitors such as Virginia, Virginia Tech, Yale, Maryland, NC State, UNC-Charlotte, Iowa, Lehigh, Cornell, Michigan, Bucknell, Vanderbilt, and scores of others.

What they’re offering is called dual career services/recruitment/support/assistance. Essentially it's just a fancy division of their human resource departments. Fueled in part by research in academic journals and findings by Stanford University’s Clayman Institute, the "dual career" trend is essentially universities' efforts to retain their recent hires by helping their significant others find jobs as well.

While the primary focus for most is finding the significant others jobs within the same university, you’d be surprised how often they’re actually doing the job of a staffing recruiter.

This summer the University of Minnesota offered my fiancé a too-good-to-pass-up opportunity. It forced us to relocate from Wisconsin to Minneapolis, and forced me to find a new job. Shortly thereafter I was recruited two local staffing companies and U of M’s Dual Career Services. One of the staffing companies placed a phony listing on a job board, got my résumé, we exchanged a series of awkward conversations via phone and email (both in broken English), and they promised to find me a temp-to-perm writing job. The other staffing company also placed a phony listing, got my résumé, called me to schedule an in-person meeting, and together we reviewed a list of temp-to-perm jobs he’d help me land. But U of M operated a little differently.

They asked me to send in my résumé, complimented it, and then suggested a few minor changes to optimize my chances. Then they noticed that I’d applied for a few positions at the university, so they wrote letters to the hiring departments to help me move up in the pile. Then they called me to ask what types of work I’d be interested in doing, and companies I’d be interested in doing that work for. Then they searched their Alumni network for connections, and lined up meet-and-greets with alums who work there.

Unfortunately none of these organizations actually got me a job, so we won’t ever know who “won.” But either way there’s something for staffing companies to learn from how these university programs operate. They don’t have actual job offers/openings at their fingertips or the insider info on the hiring process that staffing companies (often) do. But what they do have is a diverse rolodex that provides a foot in the door at ideal employers and if it leads to a job offer, they don’t take a cut of the offered pay.

Tags: Business, Bucknell, Clayman Institute, Cornell, Dual Career, Lehigh, NC State, Stanford, UNC-Charlotte, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Yale