Getting the Competitive College Recruiting Edge
By: Richard White
During these economic times, with thousands of talented graduates seeking employment, employers can take it easy and watch their computer screens as hundreds of job seekers apply for open positions as part of the emerging workforce. Right?
Well, only if you are interested in quantity over quality. To attract young talent for your organization, it is as important as ever to develop and implement a strategic approach to college recruiting. And in this Internet age, with so much recruiting activity happening online, it is more important than ever to show up on campus, balancing your electronic outreach with the human touch.
Focus your College Recruiting
Reducing the number of target schools by focusing on the decade’s best producers is an excellent strategy to save time and costs. However, don’t be tempted to cut corners at your key schools. Campus interviews remain the single best method for publicizing your jobs and internships, generating resumes, identifying candidates and interviewing them in an efficient, low-cost, structured process.
But campus interviews are not the culmination of the recruiting cycle; in essence, they are the first crucial steps leading to long and productive careers for some of your college recruits.
How do you ensure that your organization is attracting the quality and quantity of resumes to produce outstanding interview schedules? Don’t count on your general reputation or recent recruiting success, as helpful as they are. You need to be an ongoing and visible presence on campus. Your campus recruiters and managers need to develop personal relationships with the students whom you are seeking to hire to help you understand what young adults want.
What are some of the most effective pre-recruiting activities? Here are my “top 10” to consider:
1. Campus Ambassador Identify a recent intern to serve as a campus ambassador. Students know the ins and outs of their campuses and can be very helpful in creatively spreading the word about opportunities at your organization.
2. Career Fairs Yes, they have been around for a long time and you might not be able to accept resumes on the spot, but they remain one of the best ways to project your human image and meet future hires — both interns and full-timers.
3. Campus Newspaper No one reads newspapers anymore, do they? Not true when it comes to campus papers. The difference is that they serve a distinct community with relevant ads and news. For example, Rutgers’ Daily Targum is an excellent student paper with lots of readers. Our office even publishes an eight-page supplement called “Careers” six times a year. The serious job seekers pay attention.
4. 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!
5. Information Sessions With so much information available online, employer information sessions have experienced a marked decline in student attendance in recent years. 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.
6. In-Class Presentations These are easier said than done, but in the key departments at your focus schools, see if you can find a professor who will invite you into his or her class. Also see if you can find a lecture series, such as the Business Forum, a required course at the Rutgers Business School, in which you can present.
7. Executive-in-Residence This is an opportunity to “add value” to the career center’s services and also establish personal contact with individual students.
8. Annual (or Bi-Annual) Strategy Sessions In this age of constant, instant, electronic communications, take 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.
9. Donations These are always welcome, especially during these tough times, when 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.
10. 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 spread the “good word” when they return to campus.
Best wishes for a successful recruiting season!
Richard White has been director of career services at Rutgers University-New Brunswick since 1990. Prior to that, he managed college relations programs at International Paper Company, Nabisco Brands, and Brown Brothers Harriman. He is a past president of the New Jersey Association of Colleges and Employers. He has a bachelor degree from Dartmouth, a masters from the University of Kent in England, and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, all in English.