With college graduation just around the corner, the job market is about to be flooded with entry-level talent looking for full-time jobs and internships. For employers, taking advantage of the influx of newly minted professionals can be as simple as having a good campus recruiting strategy in place.
"College recruiting is a smart, predictable, scalable way to bring talent into any organization," said Tey Scott, director of talent acquisition at LinkedIn. "Smart companies know they need to invest in early-in-career talent to compete in the long term. In tech in particular, getting early-in-career technical talent in the door may be the difference between being able to scale their company fast enough to deliver on product road maps or not."
The college career fair is the traditional method of on-campus recruiting, but based on LinkedIn's success, Scott recommends implementing out-of-the-box initiatives that provide value on campus while also getting in front of targeted recruits. [See Related Story: Smart Hiring: Useful Tech Tools for Recruiting]
"The question we asked ourselves was, what would it take to identify nearly all early-in-career talent without having to rely on physical on-campus events?" she said. "To start, we looked beyond focusing our efforts solely on specific universities and schools, which tends to result in a limited pool of applicants over time. We moved away from career fairs at well-known universities and began thinking regionally, which has allowed us to successfully engage with, train and attract various student groups on our platform."
Scott noted that LinkedIn has also made it a priority to organize more unique, engaging events, such as offering students help with their LinkedIn profiles and taking their headshots.
"LinkedIn's vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, so by focusing more on supporting students' professional development rather than focusing on recruiting, we can empower students to hone their professional skills to help them land their dream job," Scott said.
Creating a smart campus recruiting strategy
When you're building a program to attract early-career professionals, branding is everything, said Scott. Mobilizing employees to attend on-campus events like career fairs and mock interviews can be time-consuming and expensive, Scott said — and more importantly, you may not come away finding the best, most diverse talent if you limit yourself to a few select schools.
"If you are a company looking to build your brand, we suggest getting out in front of as many students as possible to see what kind of talent you can attract," she said. "Chances are you will find you don't want to limit yourselves to the traditional model of campus recruiting and instead want to broaden your reach."
In a LinkedIn blog post, Scott offered the following tips for employers looking to find great entry-level talent in the soon-to-be college graduate pool:
1. Focus on targeting by region, not by school. Scott noted that this broadens your pool of potential candidates and, in tandem, the diversity of your pool.
2. Host professional development events. You can engage potential candidates better by branding your efforts as a "development" event, rather than one designed solely for recruitment, said Scott. For example, LinkedIn hosts profile stations on campuses to help students take professional headshots and increase their job prospects.
3. Build and develop programs that encourage hands-on interaction. LinkedIn developed a new program called Accelerate U to provide promising candidates a forum to learn, engage and connect through daylong workshops around professional branding, networking and interview skills.
"The key to our success with the program has been placing emphasis on the importance of skill building through workshops around personal branding, networking and interviewing," Scott said. "Our goal is to arm students with the skills necessary to put their best foot forward in interviews not just for our company, but for any professional opportunity they choose. By adding value for candidates and a sense of authenticity to our recruitment initiatives, we’ve seen our programs resonate more with on-campus audiences."