5 Steps To Formulate A Successful College Recruiting Strategy

5 Steps To Formulate A Successful College Recruiting Strategy

April 11, 2018 - 25 minute read -
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To hire the best and the brightest college graduates, the key is to come up with a water-tight college recruiting strategy. Fortunate for you, developing and implementing a recruitment strategy specifically aimed at college grads is no longer difficult and complicated if you follow this detailed formula. 

Step #1: Know Your Needs And Set Objectives For Your College Recruiting Strategy

Know Your Hiring Needs For The College Recruiting Strategy

The first element of college recruiting strategy is to determine "why" you are hiring and "why" they are students or new grads. Initially, you must determine your firm's business goals and then what specific position can do to contribute to each of them. Some of the most common business reasons for hiring include:

  • Replacements for turnover.
  • Current or future business expansion.
  • Upsizing the caliber of talent because top talent has become available.
  • Limiting the talent available in the market in order to hurt a competitor's ability to staff adequately.
  • Increasing the capability of your firm by adding new skill sets.

Which of these focus areas you select is important because each requires that you direct your college recruiting strategy efforts in a different way. For example:

  • If you are hiring for geographic expansion, you will need to implement a strategy targeting those universities which located in the new geographic regions.
  • When it comes to increasing the capability of your firm, you need to specify the new skill sets you need in your future candidates.
  • In case of upsizing the caliber of talent, you need to focus on the timing to discover emerging talent earlier than competitors.

Secondly, make sure new grads are the right audience for your recruiting program. There are some benefits of hiring graduates such as:

  • They are committed, eager to learn and easier to manage.
  • Injecting new energy into your business.
  • Saving on yearly employee salaries.
  • Comfort level with new technology.
  • Working longer, uninterrupted hours.
  • Quick learners with adaptability.

After confirming that you are going the right way, you should list exactly what positions and how many new grads you are hiring, and what you are looking for in them (including skills, majors, locations).

However, no recruiting function has enough resources to fill every position immediately with top quality hire. As a result, your recruiting strategy needs to include a prioritization element. Priority can be assigned in the following ways:

  • Hire all jobs equally with the same priority.
  • Focus on key strategic business units.
  • Focus on key jobs. 

Set Your Objectives for Your College Recruiting Strategy

Recruiting top quality college grads requires a different strategy and set of tools than recruiting average ones. As a result, you must first determine what level of performance you are primarily targeting in the students before you determine the other elements of your college recruiting strategy. Performance targets include:

  • Focus on average performers in all jobs.
  • Focus on top performers in all jobs.
  • Focus on top performers just in key jobs.

Moreover, college recruiting strategy requires you to take the long-term approach and develop your own talent, but you can either approaches target bringing in experienced talent for immediate help or to bring in new skills.

Experience target ranges include:

  • Experienced college grads/students (those with prestigious internship or hard-earned co-op placement)
  • Inexperienced talent that can be trained.
  • Temporary and contract labor that can be converted.
  • Undergraduate college hires (for interns)

Step #2: Optimize Recruiting Channels for Your College Recruiting Strategy

After setting objectives for your college recruiting strategy, you must choose and optimize the suitable recruiting channels to follow your objectives. There are 5 common recruiting channels for you to optimize. You can either make the best use of the most suitable one for your company or choose various of them to boost your reach to the students.

College Recruiting Channel Strategy: University

Firstly, your find out where your best employees came from. Most recruit professionals say they build their target school list around majors available, quality of programs, experience recruiting at the school, and school location. This requires research and careful tracking, so you can see which schools are working best for your organization.

Don't just go to the big name schools everyone else does because that's the thing to do. Look at the top performers in your organization and figure out where they came from. Especially the ones that joined your organization straight out of college. Make a list of all of the schools your employees came from and start ranking the top performing sources. Take the top 5-10 universities that stand out amongst your top sources as a starting point. If you're a bigger enterprise with more resources, you may have the capacity to select more schools.

In addition, are there schools in the area with strong programs that teach the concepts and skills you recruit for? Please be noted that in researching which schools offer the majors you seek, be wary of "best schools for" rankings; it's tempting to use these as a short cut around real research but be aware that rankings are based on criteria that may not match up with your organization's needs.

Now make the effort to understand the focus and culture of each school. What is it that makes each school unique, and how can you define your messaging toward those themes? It's important to know what is important to the target audience once they are defined.

College Recruiting Channel Strategy: Online Jobs Board

New grads are open to a new position if an opportunity were shown to them or are actively in search of new work. Most of them utilizes job boards to locate jobs that may be of interest to them. For this reason, you should look for student job boards websites and after that, write and position the ad in such a manner that it lures the right audience. Job boards that supports features such as social integration and mobile access are highly recommended so that you have maximum reach.

Besides, make sure that you optimize the use of added extras such as university forums. These forums are a platform for them to ask questions, thereby giving employers like you an opportunity to deliver feedback as well as develop relationships beyond online.

One example of online job board

College Recruiting Channel Strategy: Social Media and Professional Networks

Next on the students' list of valuable research channels was online groups, typically those within social networks like LinkedIn and Google+, or online communities like Reddit. The opportunity to connect with fellow job seekers, or those gainfully employed, who share a common interest or skill is very appealing to new grads today. And employers who successfully engage with, or even create, some of these groups without becoming too heavy handed can create a space to build connections with potential college grads and spread their employer brand. Properly managed social recruitment techniques have greater reach and less cost than conventional recruiting methods.

You can also know more about the personality of prospective hires by way of their social media profiles which will help you decide whether to accept (factors such as creativity and great communication skills) or reject (factors such as provocative content posts, lies about qualifications) candidates based on what their profiles reveal.

College Recruiting Channel Strategy: Company's Career Site

In order to appeal to the new generation of college recruits, your company's careers site must reflect your company's values. Having a well-designed career site is imperative to attracting the best talent to your organization. In this case, your target audience is current students and recent alumni. There are several elements to include in your career site.

With respect to attracting candidates, some of the things you can consider talking about through your company page on various social media are: what's unique about your company's culture, what is the experience of working at your company (can include things like building tours and interviews with employees), community news, industry news, questions to the students (such as any one thing they wish to know about your firm, a great interview tip), and of course, job openings. Dedicating prominent space that provides information about your internship and/or entry-level positions is vital. Make sure it answers the common questions, such as what an intern would be doing, if it's paid, and how they'll benefit.

College Recruiting Channel Strategy: Recruitment Agencies

A recruitment agency is a good option to consider when you are short of time to hire for the vacancy, have not been able to fill the vacancy for quite some time, don't have internal HR or just that you want an expert in college recruiting strategy. Recruitment agencies are chiefly of two kinds - contingency firms and retained firms. The former type is wholly performance based and you have to pay them only if they are successful in placing an suitable college graduate with your vacancy. The latter type is contract-based and has to be paid whatever the outcome.

To make the right choice of recruitment firm for your college recruiting strategy, it would help to ask your shortlisted options questions relating to, for example:

  • How long the agency has been in business?
  • How the qualifications of prospective hires are checked?
  • How many college recruiting programs have they done?
  • What their placement success rate is?

Read more about Where are college students looking for jobs and how can employers meet them there?

Step #3: Attract Students' Attention To Your College Recruiting Program

Depending on your college recruiting channels you have optimized, you can come up with your own way of attracting students' attention to your recruiting program before creating any college recruiting event. This stage is essential if you want to reach out more students and be more reputable among other recruiters, also to get ready for creating your college recruiting events.

Build Employer Brand And Company's Value For Your College Recruiting Strategy

"Employer branding" is a term referring to a company or organization's entire efforts to promote itself (or present and manage an image of being) a desirable place to work or the employer of choice to a preferred target group of potential hires which it desires to recruit and retain. Employer branding figures as a key long-term college recruiting tactic. More than 2000 recruiters found that cost per hire and turnover rates for companies with solid employer brands are respectively more than two times lower when compared to those companies with not so strong employer brand.

Strong employer branding allows students to feel more confident about your company and lets them know you're invested in their success. Your employer brand should be reflected in every aspect of your college recruiting strategy, creating a strong visual image for students to associate with you.

Moreover, you should talk about your company's culture when recruiting students and use this as a lead into the discussion about the job or internship your company have available. Students today are not just looking for a job - they are looking for an employment situation that aligns with their personal values. Discussing culture goes beyond simply saying 'it's a nice place to work.'

Sponsor Students' Clubs And Organizations Before Your College Recruiting Events

Most schools have a club for each department. Bigger schools have a club for each major. For example, do you hire engineers? Business majors? Communications and media majors? Guaranteed, there are active clubs meeting regularly on campus for these interests. Fortunately for you, the employer, the members of these clubs are starved for real-world knowledge, experience, and valuable networking opportunities that will help them land an internship or job.

To begin fostering relationships, approach each club with what you can offer. Some ideas can include general guidance, research projects, sponsorship opportunities, internships, etc. This will allow your company to cultivate relationships with the top officers and other leaders within the student organization and begin setting the stage to recruit them into your organization later on.

Your college recruiting strategy could be to offer a job at your company as the prize of the event sponsor. Participating as a sponsor allows your company to have access to the ideal target audience where you can either introduce or reaffirm your services to the participants. And it's an especially great way to find the perfect employee within the crowd! The point is sponsoring an event can be a cheaper alternative to hosting your own.

Some employers go one step further and may even sponsor teaching fellows or new academic programs. For companies experiencing a shortage of critical skills, an agreement with a local college or university to develop relevant degree programs might be a viable long-term investment in closing the skills gap.

Embrace Technology To Attract Graduates To Your College Recruiting Programs

The best chance employers have of attracting today's leading talent is to use modern and high-tech recruiting tools such as campus recruiting software or event recruiting software. It shows that your company is trendy when being up-to-date with technology. Especially for students whose adolescence is associated with the hasty growth of technology, you should be integrated with online platforms to allow them access health information conveniently and fast.

College recruiters should be constantly searching for new and effective recruiting approaches. There is certainly no shortage of new and emerging recruiting approaches, but they must be highly effective but cheap and easy-to-implement recruiting software. Especially Rakuna Recruit, which is a campus and event recruiting software, has already been proven effective, so you won't be the first to try it.

Strengthen Relationships With Advisors, Counselors And Professors For A Long-Term College Recruiting Strategy

The college recruiting strategy looks at the long haul, not just short-term results, and is built on strong relationships between your company and the university. Human Capital Institute found that 71 percent of organizations agree that collaboration with colleges and universities strengthens their talent pipeline.

Your current employees from your target schools likely had Advisors, Counselors, and Professors who they hold in high regard. Those are the folks you want to start making friends with. Make sure to get an introduction to those people from your employees. And if you have the chance, try to meet with them in-person. Students place a great deal of trust in their advisors, counselors and professors, and these people also want to see their students wind up in a good job after college. Making an effort to get to know these folks can make all the difference. In fact, they can become some of your best recruiters.

When you get the opportunity to talk with the college advisors, make sure to update them on how their students (your employees) are doing. And let them know exactly why that person has been a great fit for your company. This allows the advisors to build a profile in their mind of what type of person fits well in your company. Then provide them with a roadmap of where your company is going, and how new hires are going to thrive in your environment. Do this in balance with showing them how your company is going to help their graduates grow as people and professionals. Once you do this, these advisors will be the ones identifying students for you, which is infinitely helpful in hitting your college recruiting strategy.

Similarly, partnering with professors will get you in front of potential applicants sooner and ensure valuable skills are being taught in an educational setting. On the other hand, graduates are recommended to apply those skills at a potential internship or entry-level job at your company.

Students place a great deal of trust in their advisors, counselors and professors.

Plus, you should also make friends with the career center staffs, who can provide you with intelligence about their campus-its culture and traditions, specifics about their students' attitudes and behaviors, and such-which you can use to tailor your strategy. Career center staff also can help you develop relationships with other key campus contacts, including faculty and administrators. The reality is, no program can guarantee job openings for new college grads every year, but organizations achieving greatest success don't abandon campus when they aren't hiring. Instead, they find ways to maintain their ties, such as continuing their internship program, taking part in mock interviews, or performing resume critiques, for example. This is where career center staff can be especially helpful: They can tell you what options are open, and what will and won't work for their campus.

Innovate to Attract Talent To Your College Recruiting Programs

Top college-level talents don't want to leave their challenging, active campus lives to mold themselves into a boring, old-fashioned workplace. They might submit a standard resume if you ask for one (or they might just move on to another employer), but it won't increase their anticipation.

Today's students are seeking jobs that leverage their strengths to find empowerment and success. It is no longer enough to rely on traditional (subjective and biased) resume review processes to source for quality candidates. Students are looking for more diverse opportunities, and the standard application process overlooks key metrics that identify successful candidates.

One way to move beyond traditional resumes, and demonstrate your brand's innovative nature, is to maintain a robust social media presence and nurture relationships with top candidates on their favorite platforms. Make sure your social media marketing strategy includes branding your business as a cool place to work, where young professionals can continue learning and growing. Every post communicates something about your company's culture, so consider what you are communicating about your brand as a workplace.

Step #4: Create College Recruiting Events

This is the most important stage throughout your college recruiting strategy. Recruiting events decide whether your strategy is effective or not. Be creative to come up with any unique events in your own way to attract students and be confident to implement your ideas because you have built a strong audience enough to your college recruiting program. Please keep in mind to choose about 2 - 4 suitable events out of the following suggestions for your strategy.

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Campus Job And Career Fairs

Organizations have long understood the benefits of recruiting on college and university campuses as a way to attract the best and the brightest. Campus career and job fairs provide means for employers to meet with many applicants and vice versa. Each employer participating in the career fair has a table where they provide information on the company and available opportunities. Candidates will have a few minutes to talk with each company representative. Most schools have a formal career services center that connects students with internships and full-time opportunities. Many students may not have the ability to travel to interviews. Be sure to ask the schools' career service center to set up a time and place when you can visit the campus and interview students.

Campus recruiting programs provide a continuous opportunity for organizations to promote their employment brand messages and showcase their cultures and leadership. Companies also need to understand that a successful campus recruiting program will require a different approach to talent acquisition. Make your career fair booth is eye-catching to attract more students. In the career fair, you can impress the students by using some unique recruiting tools. To stand out in a career fair, you must lean heavily on early adoption of technology. Not only will new technologies make recruiting departments more efficient, but company representatives also need to show that the company is modern and professional in recruiting. Today's tech-savvy students want to work with companies that are up-to-date with modern technology.

Take a look at 4 cool technologies to accelerate your campus recruiting process!

Research shows that who you send to campus is critical: Your reps have the most influence on how students view your organization. Send well-trained professionals who are equipped to answer questions, address concerns, represent your brand, and sell your organization. Your company's representative should play an active role, like reminding students to check the company website to keep up date with latest job openings or asking them for a date in the office. 

Be sure you know What do students want from a career fair!

Career Fair

If your organization is looking to develop or re-energize your campus recruiting program, keep in mind that HR does not have to bear the sole responsibility for execution. Alumni involvement can both ease the logistical burden on HR and increase candidate engagement. High-performing alumni can be engaged to represent the company at career fairs and to conduct on-campus interviews as ambassadors for their employer. Alumni involvement is also a good way to ensure that campus recruiting efforts are sustainable and integrated with overall business objectives, two key elements of any successful program.

It is essential to have a consistent campus presence wherein a company invests and builds awareness, even if it does not currently have any openings to fill. Just as filling the talent acquisition pipeline with experienced hires is a continuous effort, effective campus recruiting programs recognize the value of community involvement and employer branding in landing top recruits either for immediate or future hire.

Read more about The best practice for accepting paper resumes at career fairs!

If you're working hard on your campus recruiting efforts, you're going to have a stack of resumes up to the ceiling. If you are looking for a software to help you out with this matter, Rakuna is here to support you!

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Company-Hosted Recruitment Fairs

It would be great if you have an active move in your college recruiting strategy like a company-hosted recruitment fair because hosting your own event will keep the focus on your company. Hosting recruiting events on location offer candidates a unique look at the exact place they will be working. Students likes to have a chance to spend a whole day learning more about the company while staying right on place. They want to learn about you just as much as you want to learn about them so offer an opportunity where both parties can do just that! Be as creative as you can to welcome candidates into your office and remember to have your top employees present. This is not a step to be conducted by recruiting alone. You must have the participation of the people new grads would work for and work with to be successful. Make sure your best employees are connected directly with new grads anytime you're hosting an event.

Hosting recruiting events on location offer candidates a unique look at the exact place they will be working.

In your company-hosted recruitment fairs, talk about the available entry level roles within your organization. Descriptions of a typical day-in-the-life of recent hires is a powerful engagement tactic. Additionally, including both multimedia information such as video clips from younger employees and written content which can be quickly skimmed is essential. Make sure that candidates gain a clear sense of what they will actually be doing on the job.

Focus on a target group to organize your event around. Note that in-person interaction can build stronger connections and commitment to your company.

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Open-Houses

Today, college graduates are savvy: they know that there's more to your company than they may see in a booth at the college career fair. Like what is said above, today's grads place value in the people they would work with and the environment in which the work is done. They also want to know how what they will be doing will make our world a better place. There's no other way to show them than by opening your doors to them.

One obvious way to bring students in your doors is to have an open house. This event is merely similar to company-hosted recruitment fair and fairly easy to organize, and you can make it effective by having key people on your team present to meet with the students. These events can be most effective when held by a particular department. The more granular the better. For instance, if you are targeting CS grads it would be advantageous to have the Engineering team host a "day in the life of a Developer" session. These events don't need to be large in scale. In fact, the more personal it is the more impact it can have.

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Student Competitions

Another innovative way to attract new grads is through competitions. Student competitions can find hidden talents. Giving candidates tasks they would need to complete in an actual work environment is a great way to test compatibility. You can offer a job at your company as the prize of the event. Student competitions can not only attract new talent but be a fun event for the public that boosts brand awareness. Moreover, they should be held year after year to encourage them to improve their skills to overcome the challenges they will have to face at work. In other words, competitions not only single out the best talent, but can encourage an advancement in the industry.

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Hackathon

Hackathon events attract programmers, coders, and developers. Be creative with your event like hosting a hackathon. Although coding a product was a major aspect of the event, workshops and lectures were also featured to step away from the traditional idea of a hackathon.

Hackathons are a fantastic way to predict how a candidate will perform by having them complete a task before hiring. These types of competitions have evolved from a way for a company to showcase their product to the public in an interactive way to an effective recruitment campaign. It can assess the skills of potential hires in a simulation of actual work they might do. They can also find solutions to your current business problems.

Hackathon events attract programmers, coders, and developers.

Find out how Hackathon events attract computer science students on campus!

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Student Ambassador Program

Your brand needs to be visible on-campus and your story needs to be heard through current students. This one can be harder to get off the ground, but when you do its impact can be substantial.

An example of a campus ambassador program comes from Zaarly. In 2012, the San Francisco startup used campus ambassadors to grow their company across the United States. They devised a position called the "Campus CEO" and helped teaching the student to run their own business on-campus.

The Campus CEO was responsible for recruiting additional students as ambassadors, and also to attract students to use the Zaarly app on their mobile device. The company has since shifted their business model, but the campus ambassador program was a success. They had Campus CEOs from USC to Duke, and solid brand recognition on campuses across the country. It also provided a solid talent pool of candidates to hire full-time at the end of their ambassadorship.

A campus ambassador program isn't the easiest thing to set up. You'll need to start with the very top schools before scaling the program. It is recommended to work with just 2-3 schools on a program to learn what's going to work. You must select the right students, set goals for what you want to accomplish, plan events that keep you on track, and evaluate how the program is working. Students are savvy when it comes to a company's brand. They are wary of a commercial, and place value on people they know that are representing a specific brand.

College Recruiting Event Strategy: Internship And Co-op Placement Program

Internships and co-ops are the most commonly used strategy, with 76 percent of organizations are offering them, and 83 percent of those rating this strategy as effective. The best students are always looking for ways to enhance their resumes with impressive accolades and extracurricular activities like community service work or other activities. A prestigious internship or hard-earned co-op placement is a great opportunity for any student and looks great on his resume.

Students understand that hands-on experience is important when it comes to developing skills and champions the values of co-op placements for creating top performers. Providing students with hands-on learning throughout their college career is key in recruiting. This experience allows students to trial the company, as well as allowing the company to make sure the student has the skills to be successful in the organization. You should be careful to target universities to fill co-op and intern spots for your co-op program. When you provide students with high-quality work, they talk to their peers about your company, which helps in recruiting. Students get great experience and your company gets to try out potential team members. Everybody wins! Fortunately, research shows new college hires who have served an internship are more likely to stay with the employer.

You can consider offering paid internships or apprenticeships. Offering paid internships and apprenticeships will make your industry, let alone your own company, more appealing. Additionally, paid internships set the expectation to potential interns that real work and productivity will be required, ensuring that candidates will take these roles seriously instead of blowing them off.

Step #5: Build Relationship After College Recruiting Events

After you have built some college recruiting events, you should take one more step towards your candidates until they officially become your employees. You've got to know that after the events, word travels fast on-campus, good or bad. Whether it's through social media, at a party, the pizza shop or walking to class students have lots of opportunities to hear about you. Take the opportunity to stand out with candidates, whether in-person or across social media channels by providing them with feedback.

After College Recruiting Events: Follow-up Emails

The best thing companies can do after a college recruiting event is to stay in contact with every candidate. Let the student know that you appreciate them coming by to see you and provide value by emails. This will manifest itself into a great brand on-campus, and a partnership with your target universities.

Always ensure that your communications are timely, informative, and, if a candidate is rejected, they are provided closure. When a candidate doesn't hear back from an employer, that employer's brand will inevitably take a hit. Research shows that if a candidate has a bad experience with an employer's hiring process, said candidate is likely to share their experience with family, friends, and on social media. Additionally, candidates who feel especially burned by a company will go so far as to avoid buying that company's product all together.

There is a recruiting technology that have the ability to help employer's stay in valuable contact with the candidate, ultimately providing a positive candidate experience. It is automated follow-up email. Follow-up emails can be set up in an automated way, meaning that once a candidate submits a resume or is no longer being considered, an email will automatically be sent. This keeps candidates updated on their status with your company. Fortunate for you, this feature is available in Rakuna Recruit Software.

After College Recruiting Events: Connect With Each Student

After you shortlist qualified candidates, follow up with every person who showed an interest. Every employer has something to offer, no matter how big or small. The best recruiters have a keen eye for talent and understand their company's strengths, but that's not all. You can consider setting up "Office hour", where recruiters meet each student for 15 minutes to address their questions or concerns to help them apply successfully.

Read more about How to build an effective candidate follow-up strategy?

After College Recruiting Events: Update Career Site

Your career site should be updated regularly, answering the most common questions of the candidates about you company, details about the applying process, the recruitment results, etc. Some photos taken at the event should also be uploaded to your site. It would be a gentle but effective reminder to your audience of your college recruiting program.

Read more about How to engage with students beyond career fairs?

About Rakuna - Campus And Event Recruiting Software

Rakuna is the campus recruiting platform redefining how top employers recruit young people. The Rakuna Platform includes Rakuna Recruit, the simplest mobile app for recruiting events, and Rakuna Recruit Dashboard, the candidate relationship management dashboard for campus recruiting.

Rakuna Recruit App is a great assistant to help you make a successful college recruiting strategy:

  • 100% engaging experience: Impress your student applicants with paperless technology. Converse and connect instead of dealing with manual check-in and data entry.
  • Instant and easy data access: Our intuitive design requires no user training. Make your career fair experiences fun and easy with Rakuna's intuitive app.
  • Professional and streamlined solution: Make a connection with college students and impress your colleagues with a paper-free, eco-friendly smartphone app.

Rakuna Recruit Dashboard benefits your college recruiting strategy by:

  • Making your game plan: Unify your team with common goals, questions, and forms that everyone can access during the career fair. Use the dashboard to track dates, staff, and attendees in advance.
  • Engaging top talents: Connect with candidates and use standardized forms to eliminate the administrative side and focus on discussing career options, goals, and ideas with millennials.
  • Beat the competition: Get a headstart on other companies by using the information made immediately available at your fingertips. Scroll through resumes and follow up with your favorite candidates.

To learn more, contact sales@rakuna.co. For more tips and tricks on campus recruiting and college recruiting, visit our blog at www.rakuna.co/blog, subscribe to "In & Outs of Recruiting Millennials" vid-cast, and join the conversation on our LinkedIn Group.