A CEO’s charm offensive nets grads

Chris Policinski has a problem. His company has 80 full-time job openings for college and M.B.A. graduates, but they’re a tough crowd to recruit.

Policinski runs Land O’Lakes, a Minnesota-based agricultural firm. In his 111/2 years as CEO, he has found that top grads don’t flock to food and agriculture companies.

So how does Policinski stoke their interest? He launches a charm offensive and sells Land O’Lakes as a worthy employer.

Once or twice a month, Policinski serves as a guest lecturer in college business courses. As he discusses strategy with students and guides them through case studies, he also subtly promotes Land O’Lakes as a strong performer with a solid history of growth.

During his campus visits, he also meets with small groups of students in an informal setting. His goal is to build relationships with them and serve as a career mentor. He encourages them to stay in touch, and some of them call the CEO for advice as they sift through job offers.

Citing recent Deloitte research, Policinski says that millennials who stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. So he has set up a range of mentoring programs within the company to pair newcomers with veteran leaders.

In addition, Policinski and his team constantly take the pulse of their new hires. He solicits their input via surveys, town halls and his open-door policy.

— Adapted from “Most Business Leaders Don’t Know What Millennials Really Want,” Chris Policinski, www.fortune.com.