Every spring, internet forums are filled with anxious high school seniors asking about college choices. One of the more common questions is something along the lines of “Will it hurt my future prospects to go to the University of Forgottonia?” There are plenty of reasons for students to end up choosing small schools: the lower costs, the smaller classes, the tightly-knit communities, etc. The career prospects are another question filled with so many variables that it’s not possible to discuss here.
Now what about these schools from the point of view of an employer? They do present a different challenge from their larger and more famous peers, since they offer smaller talent pools and are often located in “remote” places. However, employers do miss out on great opportunities by ignoring them completely. Some investment of time and resources in small schools can create a great talent pipeline that will prove beneficial for years to come.
Lower Costs and Less Competition
One of the problems with recruiting at larger and more well-known universities is that pretty much everyone is doing it. You’re pretty likely to find a decent crop of applicants, but it’s also likely that other employers have found those same applicants, and are spending quite a lot on wooing them. You have to fight tooth and nail if you’re going to come out with the best people.
In the meantime, there are plenty of untapped sources of talent that a large part of your competition is ignoring. You will encounter top-quality candidates if you venture beyond familiar schools, and there will be fewer hassles and costs to get them to choose you.
Better People For Your Specific Needs
Every university is unique, and programs in the same field can produce very different people. When choosing schools for your recruiting operations, make sure that their students are likely to be the right fit at your organization. You won’t always find the skills or competencies your organization needs by looking at national or regional top-tier programs. If you carefully research your options, you will come out further ahead than more myopic competitors.
Diversity is a great asset for any organization. Diverse teams have been shown to be stronger at problem solving and information processing that homogeneous ones. Diverse organizations are more innovative, more productive, better at responding to problems, and less likely to suffer from high turnover.
Limiting your options for schools will reduce diversity at your organization. As much as universities try to achieve diversity themselves, homogeneity is a problem that many can’t overcome. An employer who hopes to achieve a diverse workplace will have to do much of the work itself. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for employers to achieve diversity, including expanding recruiting operations into universities with large numbers of underrepresented students.
You have a lot to gain by looking for candidates at smaller universities. There’s a big, untapped vein of talent out there, and your organization can benefit for years to come if you seize on it. Of course, trying to send your staff to every single campus is unwise and wasteful, but you can cover small colleges through the school’s job posting system, conducting video interviews to cut down cost before bringing in the best stud for the final round. Many smaller colleges are collaborating to put together a virtual online career fair, or associations that give employers a one-stop shop to make it easier for employers to hire from smaller colleges. You just have to be open-minded, and willing to be creative.
What other benefits that we have not covered? Comment below and share your thoughts.