Co-op Best Practices > Marketing, Employer Development – Building the WIN-WIN Relationship

Marketing, Employer Development – Building the WIN-WIN Relationship

posted on October 1, 2000

A typical job description for any co-op practitioner is likely to identify substantial employer development, referred to as "sales" in similar private sector activity. Normally, employer development is a continuous process requiring considerable allocation of time resources within the operation of a quality co-op program. Effective employer development by the co-ordinator involves building quality relationships between institutions, employers and students. This outline should assist with focusing on some essential employer development considerations. Employer development involves building quality relationships, or win-win situations, from which:

  • Students achieve desired and appropriate learning
  • Employers derive desired benefits
  • Institutions and their co-op programs achieve enhanced positive exposure and credibility
  • Relationships continue with further hiring, as long as need exists

If the relationship has been one-sided it will be short lived. The employer will discontinue hiring students or students will decline to accept positions offered. Therefore, the co-ordinator undertaking employer development should be involved in the following processes:


  • to understand the business or industrial sector being targeted
  • to understand the changing dynamics of the marketplace
  • to identify and qualify prospective employers
  • to thoroughly understand the profile of students and their academic programs
  • to thoroughly understand the co-operative education culture


  • to open doors with prospective qualified employers
  • to determine employer needs and identify areas of challenge
  • to present the co-op concept as an alternative
  • to meet the challenge, if appropriate
  • to withdraw gracefully if co-op not appropriate
  • to motivate employers to "buy" with suggestions on co-op solution alternatives
  • to deal with buying reluctance
  • to "close the sale" with a WIN-WIN solution


  • to ensure continuous student learning
  • to ensure continuous employer satisfaction
  • to facilitate resolution of problems that may arise
  • to ensure a continuous WIN-WIN relationship