NEW YORK - May 15, 1998--Today's booming economy and an intensely competitive environment for top talent are sending many of the nation's CEOs off to college this spring. Colleges such as Cornell University say savvy business chieftains are adding college recruiting, a task formerly relegated to lower administrative levels, to their own busy schedules. College officials say executives arrive on campus prepared to negotiate with higher salaries and signing bonuses than ever before. And they're not just making time for graduates they're scouting freshmen and sophomores too!
The timing couldn't be better for graduating hotel students as travel and tourism industry profits approach a record $475 billion this year. According to a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the tourism industry is expected to add 100 million new jobs over the next 12 years, an increase driven by the globalization of the world economy.
At Cornell University's Hotel School, top management from companies such as Bristol Hotels Resorts, Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels Resorts and E Y Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group showed up this spring to court 220 graduating seniors and 55 masters students with nearly 2,000 job listings, ranging from hotel and restaurant management to real estate to banking and financial services. Of the 118 companies recruiting on campus, more than 30 percent were represented by vice presidents or above. Just three years ago, less than 15 percent of the recruiting companies sent higher-level executives to the campus, according to Cornell Hotel School Associate Dean Don Bishop.
"College recruiting is serious business today, particularly for the hospitality industry," Bishop said. "Companies in our industry realize that time spent pursuing and recruiting potential employees is an investment in their company's future, one that directly delivers to the bottom line. Today, it's the CEOs, the presidents, the vice presidents of operations taking the recruiting seats once filled by junior execs."
"Recruiting the best talent for their companies is a No. 1 priority today for top management," Bishop added. And because we provide such a focused program, our masters and undergraduate students can make a quicker contribution to the bottom line within a company and are often placed immediately into 'performance' jobs."
J. Peter Kline, president and CEO, Bristol Hotels Resorts, has personally been involved in recruiting at Cornell for the past 15 years and says if he hadn't done so, "we wouldn't be as successful as we are today. When we recruit, we look for people who share our basic philosophies and beliefs, people who can grow and learn with us, people with whom we want to work on a day-to-day basis. That's a huge task that I, as president, want to be involved in."
John Sharpe, president, Four Seasons Hotels, says he oversees the company's recruiting program at Cornell because of his "continuing and growing respect for the school and its graduates. Recruiting begins with involvement in the classrooms, where the presence of Four Seasons people gives the students a chance to form a first-hand impression of the company. Relationships with university students can be formed through these initial impressions well before graduation. It's a very good use of our time."
This year, executives will find the recruiting process at Cornell's Hotel School no less competitive than their day-to-day grind. 1997's graduating seniors and graduate students received an average of 3.3 job offers each, and the numbers are expected to be even higher this year. The average income for undergraduates is more than $34,000 plus signing bonuses and moving stipends, 12 percent more than last year and 30 percent more than five years ago. For graduate students, the average compensation is more than $50,000.
"This industry has always thrived on relationship-building, with the most important relationships being those we develop and cultivate with our own employees," Kline said. "Those very important relationships begin right here, during the recruiting process, before employees ever set foot in your company. You've got to get out here and do the scouting yourself--it may be the most important investment you make in your company.
Since its inception in 1922, the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration has been recognized by industry leaders and educators worldwide as the preeminent educational institute of hospitality management. With more than 60 full-time professors, the school maintains the largest faculty of any hospitality school in the world, and the only such program in the Ivy League. Eight hundred fifty undergraduate students, 120 graduate students and 1,700 executive education students currently are enrolled in the hospitality school.