The campus job fair isn’t the only – or even the best – way to connect with up-and-coming student talent. By the time the job fair rolls around, many of the most promising candidates already have internships or positions lined up. For those who don’t, your company is still just one booth in a crowded room, and it’s hard to stand out in that context.

But there are better ways to reach your future employees.

Today’s young workers respond to personal relationships and thoughtful connection much more readily than they do to traditional job marketing. If your college recruiting techniques haven’t changed in the past twenty years, it’s time to up your game.

Here are ten ways to reach the most promising career-minded students on college campuses.

  1. Build relationships early and often.
    A one-time encounter with a student is rarely enough to educate them about the opportunities at your company. Instead, aim to build relationships over time by encouraging conversations. For example, invite a group of students for lunch with some of your company executives or with a team, host a tour of your operations or office building, or host a webinar on how to conduct a job search or create a resume.
  2. Get involved in their programs in tangible, visible ways.
    Another way to build relationships with prospective students is to actively participate in their programs. Bay Power, an electrical supply company in California, regularly donates used or outdated equipment to local tech schools for the students to practice with, and some of their technicians have also served as guest lecturers in the program. This is a great way to build recognition and make positive connections with your brand. You could also partner with program leaders to serve as adjunct faculty, sponsor or speak at an event, or host a workshop.
  3. Reach out to school leaders.
    Administrators, faculty members, and career center staff can introduce you to promising students who would make good candidates for internships or jobs. They can also help you identify students who have leadership potential or who possess other desirable skills and qualities.
  4. Offer internships and mentorships.
    Internships are among the most successful college recruitment tools because they provide an opportunity for students to get to know your company on a deeper level (and for you to see them in action). They also help students gain real-world work experience that will strengthen their resume. Even if the internship doesn’t result in a full-time hire after graduation, it can still help you expand your network among highly skilled young workers and to forge relationships with colleges and universities where you hope to recruit.
  5. Use social media strategically.
    Younger generations of workers use social media not just to learn about job opportunities, but also to get an inside look of what it will be like to work at your company. They want to know what your culture is like, what your values are, and what opportunities they would have to develop themselves professionally as your employee. Facebook and Instagram are excellent places to showcase these qualities, and they’re also good platforms for more formal recruitment marketing posts. If you plan to be on campus for an event, you can also use a platform like SnapChat to showcase speakers or job opportunities with geofilters and Snapchat Stories.
  6. Up your mobile recruiting game.
    In 2016, 78% of Millennials used mobile search to look for jobs. If your career page isn’t optimized for mobile, you are missing a prime opportunity to connect with younger generations of workers. Mobile recruiting isn’t just about creating a responsive website. It’s about taking a mobile first approach to design landing pages, job applications, and contact information specifically for use on mobile devices. For example, use a mobile app to manage job applications and communication, use SMS messaging to schedule interviews and follow up with candidates, and include social sharing buttons so users can share job opportunities with others in their network quickly and easily.
  7. Personalize your messaging and career landing pages.
    Content personalization is a common technique in marketing, and it’s just as important for recruiting. Personalization techniques make content engaging and relevant, and they increase the likelihood of response. For example, build a landing page specifically targeted to college graduates, provide personalized job recommendations based on their interaction with your site, and create content targeted at the interests and job expectations of this specific demographic.
  8. Implement a student referral program.
    As you build relationships with students, encourage them to refer others who might be a good fit for your organization. This is one of the best ways to find quality student candidates, and it is also a cost-effective way to expand your network. Encourage referrals by offering simple incentives like a gift card or movie tickets, and use your social network to build relationships with promising candidates. And don’t overlook past graduates, interns, and others connected with the school. These are all excellent referral sources that can lead you to top talent.
  9. Host skills competitions.
    Skills competitions (think Hack-a-thons) are attractive to students because they offer a chance to show off what they can do and to compete with peers. They can drive positive engagement with your brand, and they also give you an opportunity to observe several potential candidates in action outside of an interview setting.
  10. Monitor the metrics.
    The final key to successful student recruitment is to keep a close eye on recruiting metrics. Determine which efforts are the most effective by tracking data such as number of hires per campus, interview to offer ratios, offer acceptances, and turnover rates of new hires from each venue.

Remember that campus recruiting is not an event. It’s a relationship-building endeavor. You are playing the long game by encouraging interaction with your brand, building positive associations in the minds of students, and investing in the top talent of the future.

When those students graduate, you will already have access to a promising pool of up-and-coming talent to carry your organization forward.

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