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Tips for Recruiting on College Campuses

Tips for Recruiting on College Campuses
Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Following college graduation season, many young adults are polishing their resumes, updating their LinkedIn profiles and worrying. While this time of year is nerve-wracking for unemployed graduates, many recruiters are encountering similar stress levels worried that they will not fill their companies' entry-level positions.

Many businesses partake in the traditional recruitment tactics: career fairs, networking events, and class presentations. But to find top talent, companies must recruit early and go beyond the college career fair.

"The key to college recruiting is building a multi-year pipeline," said Alexander Lowry, the director of Gordon College's Masters in Financial Analysis program.

Ideally, the campus Career Services department would be your initial selling point, but make sure it isn't the only one. After you're on the school's network site and LinkedIn, try to meet with both professors and staff in the career placement center. The possibility of scoring time in the classroom is much higher if you've built a friendship.

You should also foster relationships with student organizations, specifically any clubs or honor societies related to your industry. Many students have joined these groups solely to network. You can book a time to speak to the organization as well as get recommendations from leadership about candidates who may be a good fit for your company.

"Yes, we attend career fairs and post jobs on campus job boards, but we often connect with the most outstanding students by speaking in classes, conducting mock interviews on campus, or hosting student groups at our HQ for presentations, tours, and job shadows," said Shayna Royal, senior recruiter at Paycor.

By partaking in more interactive recruiting, employers can gauge a student's interest level, their initiative and communication skills without sorting through pages of resumes.

Using your connections to speak in classes and club meetings reaches a demographic of potential applicants who may not be regularly asking their career service center for help. To seek out students who aren't seeking you, you'll want to find people where they already are, whether it's the student union, gym or even Facebook pages for graduating classes.

Usually, academic departments and student organizations use listservs, social media, and apps like Slack or GroupMe. If you can establish a friend or point of contact to broadcast your open position, you can differentiate yourself from mass emails during recruitment season.

Use a variety of key players from your company for on-campus recruiting. While recruiters and HR professionals are great at selling your organization, students will be more receptive to alumni or those who are doing the job they are applying for. Make sure to tap team members from different departments, levels, and backgrounds.

Something that students aren't used to hearing about in the recruitment process is work-life balance. If you highlight office perks, company hours and paid time off opportunities, applicants may find you more memorable than other tables at the career fair.

"Looking at campus recruiting as a transactional function does not serve organizations well in the long run, as students completely turn over every four to five years, and you're back at square one," Royal said.

Most professionals regard a strong GPA as an indicator that a potential employee can handle pressure, learn quickly and succeed. But in 2013, Google told the New York Times that GPA and test scores don't mean much when it comes to workplace performance.

"One of the things we've seen from all our data crunching is that GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless; [there is] no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there's a slight correlation," said Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google.

Opening doors to applicants beyond a short list of target schools increases the quality and diversity of your applicant pool. While it is important and effective to foster relationships with the schools and majors that fit the skill sets you're looking for, you may be surprised by what you've been missing. Be innovative in the way you recruit on college campuses, but also expand the pool from which you recruit.

Carlyann Edwards

Carlyann is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Business Journalism with minors in sustainability and music at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will graduate in 2020. She is incredibly interested by the intersection of business development and environmental preservation. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys working for non-profit organization Carolina Thrift, running and playing the ukulele. She can be reached by email or LinkedIn.