Tips to Revolutionize College Recruitment

By Jeanette Maister

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It's harder no than ever to keep talented employees around in the increasingly competitive recruiting landscape. Especially in the most sought-after skills like coding and foreign language, discovering current students and recent graduates has become a challenge for recruiters. It will take time, but improving the effectiveness of your talent acquisition is important. 

Read on to identify a few crucial insights designed to help you attract and engage recent college graduates.

Start Building Brand Awareness Today

One of the most significant impacts you can have on your recruiting process is building relationships with potential candidates as early as possible. Establishing your company as the employer of choice is vital, and it’s easy to begin passively engaging with prospects while they’re still in school. Establishing brand visibility with prospective talent early on is a great way to cultivate a long-lasting relationship. Currently, 40% of college students name Google as the top place they want to work. While this could be a testament to perks and the tech industry, brand recognition probably plays the biggest role.

The easiest way to do this is by connecting with the workforce you already employ. Do you have a few talented recent grads on staff? Consider leveraging their connections or solicit feedback on their view of the recruiting process and management techniques. Take time to understand who fits your culture and what improvements could be made to keep college talent interested. Don’t forget to use tools like social media to document office events and humour. This will help introduce your company culture without talent ever having to step into your building. Encourage your employees to share those networking sites with their connections for added awareness — and at virtually no cost.

Take Campus Recruiting Seriously

Campus recruiting events can be one of the first places a student encounters your brand or career opportunities. They can also be the first step talent acquisition professionals can use to prove themselves and sell their company. There is a great opportunity for exposure in campus recruiting events. Below are a few key tips to make the most of your campus recruiting experience:

  • Round up the troops. Take along an alum who knows the campus and school or bring a recent hire. If possible, choose someone who is both. Alumni will know where to go without a map and will know how to connect with talent on their level. A new hire will bring perspective on career trajectory and opportunities in ways students can understand. And both can make navigating the crowd easier, while also adding a personal touch.
  • Go above and beyond. Want to make an impression? That might require you to come a little early and be willing to stay later. An open, flexible schedule will allow you to spend more time connecting with interested students. Consider leaving time available for onsite or next day interviews. You could leave the event with more than contact info.
  • Get your follow up game together. Collecting contact information from interested prospects is only part of the process. Be sure to send an impressive email or call to set up an interview with candidates you think are the right fit. Try to take good notes from your conversations so you can send more personalized emails to your prospects. The right recruitment software can help with all of this and also provide onsite check-in for prospects, resume & profile access, profile creation, etc.

In addition to recruiting fairs, there are a number of other on campus activities you can host that offer a great opportunity to attract talent. Keep reading to discover two of the many untapped strategies that will up your campus recruitment:

  • Classroom Lunches: As a recruiter standing out from the crowd can be tough. The one thing students won’t turn down? A free lunch. Create a small program around trends or industry-specific news that will keep their interest while still making connections to your company and their careers. Keep the speeches short, leaving more room for interactions. If done well, this is a winning strategy since it gives you the undivided attention of a large number of students.
  • Hackathons and Contests: Work with a university’s career centre to create a hackathon (these aren’t just for computer geeks anymore) or contest for students. It might take a bit of work, but they can be an effective and informal way to get to know potential candidates and their talents.

Build an Apprenticeship

While typically thought to be reserved for tradesmen such as carpenters or electricians, these transitional positions are gaining popularity — and for good reason. More and more white-collar occupations, such as information technology are at the root of the apprenticeship expansion. Prioritizing apprenticeships and other education models that integrate classroom learning with on-the-job training may be the key to cultivating talent based on the needs of your company.

“Apprenticeships hold great promise in helping American workers acquire the skills they need to get good jobs while ensuring companies can attract the talent required to succeed in this fast-moving global economy.”

- Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta

These programs offer you an opportunity to shape employees with specific skill sets required for your industry while creating a sense of loyalty. They also benefit students by providing an alternative to the university route. By offering long-term (usually 3–4 years) on the job training alongside a classroom education without incurring the debt of a university, this system offers the best of both worlds for you and the student. If an apprenticeship isn’t possible, internships are great starting points too. An intern can begin working for your company contingently while you train and develop their skills. From there, you can assess their long-term fit and success within your organization.

No matter which strategy you use, creating a plan is essential when acquiring top talent. Ready to improve your entire recruiting process? Try these ten tips to revolutionize the way you find, attract, engage, assess and hire the best college talent.

About Jeanette Maister:

Global talent acquisition technology leader with extensive experience in global talent acquisition, applicant tracking systems & recruiting technology, recruiting metrics and process. Deep insight into all aspects of campus recruiting strategy. Recognized for driving growth and helping clients transform their recruiting efforts.

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