Best practices for recruiting college students
Each new class of graduating college seniors brings a new opportunity to add fresh talent to your team. But it’s important to establish relationships with students early, even before the diplomas are printed. Truth is, many of your competitors are probably already recruiting college students as part of their overall recruitment strategy. Waiting for them to reply to your job posting simply won’t cut it.
The key to attracting young talent to your organization is to develop and implement a strategic approach to college recruiting. And while so much takes place in the online world, it’s also important to show up on campus in order to balance your electronic outreach with the human touch.
Below we’ll discuss best practices for recruiting college students, including career fairs, presentations, and campus visits.
The importance of campus interviews
Campus interviews are a time-tested method for publicizing your jobs and internships, generating resumes, identifying candidates, and interviewing them in an efficient, low-cost, structured process. Typically, companies form and maintain relationships with the universities they’re targeting (the University of California at Berkeley, for example, provides great resources for connecting students to more than 300 employers).
Even if you’re not currently hiring, campus interviews are key to promoting your company’s brand and building awareness. Think of it as an ongoing investment that will pay off down the road. You’ll also gain valuable insight into what motivates emerging workforces, allowing you to fine-tune your recruitment strategies.
Recruiting college students: before the interview
You can’t just show up at the beginning of each semester expecting to line up interviews with the best of the best. You need to be an ongoing and visible presence on campus. Your campus recruiters and managers need to develop personal relationships with the students you’re targeting to help you understand what motivates them.
What are some effective pre-recruiting activities? Here are a few ideas to consider:
Designate a campus ambassador
Identify a recent intern to serve as a campus ambassador, someone who can be a conduit between your company and the school. Students know the ins and outs of their campuses and can be very helpful in creatively spreading the word about opportunities at your organization.
Attend career fairs
These were all the rage long before the internet made connecting applicants to employers much more efficient. But career fairs are still the best ways to project your human image and meet future hires in person, both interns and full-timers. It also helps you brand your employer and stand apart from your competitors.
Take advantage of campus newspapers
Campus newspapers serve a distinct community with relevant ads and news. And even while overall newspaper readership has declined, campus papers remain popular with their target audience.
Advertise in the career services guide
Your target school probably publishes a career guide, so place an ad in a publication that has “shelf life” — students hold on to it and refer to it throughout the year. Remember, your top competitors may be in the guide. And if they’re not, you’ve got the competitive edge!
Provide information sessions
With so much information available online, employer information sessions have experienced a marked decline in student attendance. But you’re after quality, not quantity. You’re seeking opportunities for human connections. So, remember that the most serious students who are most interested in you will make the time or find the time to attend.
Give in-class presentations
In the key departments at your focus schools, see if you can find a professor who will invite you into their class. Also see if you can find a lecture series in which you can present. The point here is not to actively recruit but to raise awareness of your company and generate interest in your profession.
Participate in annual strategy sessions
Take the time to visit the campus once or twice a year to meet with key members of the career services staff. Fewer organizations take the time to do this, but it’s a great way to build relationships and customize your recruiting strategy at your target campuses. Think about in-depth spring or summer visits rather than tacking on quick meetings during recruiting visits or career fairs.
These are always welcome, especially as many colleges are experiencing budget cuts. Consider grants or donations to name rooms, sponsor “dress-for-success” or other special programs, or help career centers purchase computers, software, or books. You’re not trying to “buy” influence and should donate for the right reasons, but it also could help with your recruiting and branding efforts.
Plan site visits
Think about inviting groups of students, career services representatives, and faculty from key departments to your facility. Site visits are great ways to share your company culture, organization, products, and services with participants and they will help spread the word when they return to campus.
Get help recruiting college students with Monster’s expert touch
No matter who you’re targeting for your recruiting efforts, it’s an ongoing process that requires perseverance and a well-planned strategy. The best way to prepare is to learn from the top experts in the field. That’s why you should consider signing up for our free e-newsletter, Monster Hiring Solutions, where you’ll get the latest tips on recruiting and management strategies.