Some 7,700 North­eastern stu­dents are on track to go on co-​​op in 2013, but many jobs will still go unfilled.

If there are more jobs than stu­dents, it is incum­bent on you to brand your­selves and find a way to stand out and com­pete,” said John Flato, the vice pres­i­dent of advi­sory ser­vices for Uni­versum, an employer branding com­pany that sur­veys stu­dents from hun­dreds of col­leges about their career goals and impres­sions of some of the world’s top employers.

Flato directed his remarks to rep­re­sen­ta­tives from co-​​op employers who attended Northeastern’s annual Employer Round­table, which was held in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater on Tuesday morning. Hosted by the university’s Office of Career Ser­vices, the event aimed to help com­pa­nies attract North­eastern stu­dents to co-​​op or full-​​time posi­tions through infor­ma­tional pre­sen­ta­tions by employee branding and recruit­ment mar­keting experts. The majority of the ses­sion focused on ways busi­nesses could work to improve their rep­u­ta­tion with young job seekers.

Today’s stu­dents, Flato said, are looking for a stable job in a cre­ative work envi­ron­ment in which they feel respected by their employer. North­eastern stu­dents are par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in careers in an inno­v­a­tive envi­ron­ment with lead­er­ship opportunities.

Our stu­dents are really sought after,” Maria Stein, the university’s director of career ser­vices, told the co-​​op employers in her opening remarks. “That’s good news for stu­dents, but more of a chal­lenge for you guys.”

Yael Jones, Johnson & Johnson’s man­ager of recruit­ment mar­keting, pointed to the health­care conglomerate’s “Be Vital” cam­paign as an example of how employers can suc­cess­fully engage poten­tial job seekers. According to Universum’s sur­veys, North­eastern stu­dents engage employers most often through career fairs, campus visits, employer web­sites, and social and pro­fes­sional networks.

What’s impor­tant about a brand is that people live and breathe it,” Jones said. “It needs to come across during every phase of the recruiting process, not just on a human resources website.”

Johnson & Johnson—which has more than 250 com­pa­nies in 57 coun­tries around the world—has been able to ded­i­cate finan­cial and per­sonnel resources to its employer brand, but it’s also pos­sible for small com­pa­nies to fine-​​tune their employer rep­u­ta­tion, according to both Jones and Flato.

The first thing to do is under­stand your can­di­date,” Jones said. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be as impactful as possible.”