Campus Recruiting: How To Find Fresh Talent for Your Business

At some point, every successful business needs to hire new people. While you can head to job boards or use your network to find your star employee, don’t overlook the benefits of campus recruiting. Each year, companies of all sizes turn to on-campus recruiting—or OCR—as a way to expand their ranks and find the best—and oftentimes—the most energetic go-getters to join their company.

However, campus recruiting isn’t without its difficulties. From gaining a basic understanding of Gen Z to learning how to become an attractive landing spot for top talent, here’s how to use campus recruiting to find fresh talent for your business.

What Is Campus Recruiting?

Students and recruiters at campus recruiting fair

Before breaking down the intricacies of campus recruiting, you should have a firm grasp of what it actually is and involves. Simply put, campus recruiting is the process of attracting, engaging, and hiring current college students for entry-level positions or internships.

Despite this seemingly straightforward concept, campus recruiting has evolved beyond a mere stall at a job fair. Between virtual career fairs, on-campus interviews, working with a university career center, and even generational differences, a campus recruiting strategy has become a holistic approach.

If you want to dive head-first into the talent pool and hire your next star employee(s), you need to up your recruiting efforts. Anything less, and you could get left behind.

What Are the Benefits of Campus Recruiting?

Aside from the obvious bonus of attracting potential employees before they hit the job market, campus recruiting offers several benefits over traditional hiring processes. Keep these advantages in mind as you start to create your campus recruiting strategy.

Retention Rate Improvement

Compared to other generations, Gen Z aren’t afraid to job hop or job search while they’re employed. According to statistics, the college-aged generation is 134% more likely to change jobs than prior generations. A further 25% consistently want to change jobs within the next six months.

Those staggering rates are certainly off-putting to most employers. With time and money invested in talent acquisition, companies don’t want to lose new hires just a year or two later.

And that’s what campus recruiting aims to resolve. When employers have the opportunity to meet candidates, they can present an employer brand image, a friendly handshake, and a personalized approach to hiring.

In this manner, employees can build a repoire with prospective candidates even before an interview or a job offer. When a grad knows what the company is all about and likes what they see, retention rates increase.

Add in the idea that the cost to hire an employee is around six to nine months’ worth of the prior employee’s salary, and OCR becomes an even more integral part of a business’s hiring process.

Save Time and Money

According to job board Zippia, the average cost of a hire is around $4,600. Coupled with a cost of up to 40% of an employee’s base salary to include recruiting, onboarding and benefits, and that’s an expense you can’t afford to ignore.

But that’s what makes campus recruiting such a viable option. Rather than post your open positions and hope for the best, on-campus recruiting events give you a low-cost way to search for early-career talent.

Moreover, graduates finding jobs and career opportunities is in the best interest of universities. This promotes a symbiotic relationship between employer and educator that can save time and money on planning your recrutiment of current or soon-to-graduate students.

Internship Opportunities

Not every student that attends an on-campus recruiting event is about to graduate. Some are looking to expand their horizons with a semester-long or summer internship program—and these are every bit as important as seniors or recent graduates.

With an internship, you can acclimatize potential hires to your business model and initiatives, give them expectations on the what the job is like, and get the inside track on hiring once they graduate.

Campus recruiting gives you this opportunity for in-person outreach, which can often be a difference maker in the hiring process.

Construct an Employment Pipeline

When you turn to OCR to find employees, you forge a relationship and rapport with a university. This is a valuable asset by any stretch of the imagination. Think of it as free promotion and advertising, especially if you consistently offer entry-level roles to a university’s recent grads.

How To Start Your Campus Recruiting Program

Recruiting team shown from chest down.

Nothing is inherently wrong with job boards, Linkedin, social media, or other methods of recruiting interns or full-time, entry-level employees. Campus recruiting just gives you first dibs at your preferred candidate. In that regard, it’s in your best interest to build a comprehensive university recruiting program, especially if you’re in the market for affordable labor that you can mold into an all-star team.

Assemble Your Recruting Team

If you’re committed to campus recruiting, having a permanent team—or at least as permanent as your size and budget will allow—is paramount. Even if you’re relying solely on virtual events as opposed to in-person information sessions or job fairs, you need people on top of the recruiting process.

You can break this down into three positions, although limited budgets may mean that a single employee has to wear multiple hats:

  • In-person recruiter: This person is the face of your company who attends the event. They should be outgoing, well-versed in small talk, and be able to explain the candidate experience from the hiring process to what a typical day is like.
  • Talent acquisition professional: This person is the brains behind your entire operation. They coordinate with universities, plan what schools you’ll recruit at, and manage the relationship between your company and the university.
  • Recruitment marketing specialist: This person is responsible for creating the marketing materials, banners, and other materials for your booth or virtual booth at a recruiting event. They also market and promote the event through your website, email, or social media.

Set a Budget

Like any other part of a business, you need to set a budget. As mentioned above, one major tenet of campus recruiting is to cut costs compared to traditional hiring and recruiting paths.

Therefore, you should set a budget that includes line items such as:

  • Cost-per-hire
  • Marketing budget
  • Salaries
  • Decor for recruiting booth
  • Swag and giveaways to attract attention

Once you set a budget, you can divvy up the money between these ideas, but feel free to add your own ideas to the mix.

Develop a Communication Plan

Another important step in campus recruiting is to develop a communication plan. This plan should start before the event even happens and go until the final interview for a particular candidate.

For example, you could use social media and email marketing to announce your attendance at a job fair or a similar event. Then, decide how you want to attract or approach students at the event itself, including a “hook.” You could also create your own events when you follow up. This is the optimal time for onsite interview schedules or discussing the interview, job, or brand in further detail.

Difficulties of Campus Recruiting and How To Overcome Them

Diverse college students gathered in front of building

Campus recruiting certainly has its advantages, but it isn’t without certain difficulties. In most cases, you’re going to come across a few issues that can sideline your attempts to find potential candidates. Here are some things to look out for and how you can rectify the situation.

Understand Gen Z

The core values of Gen Z vary drastically from any prior generation. While money and the chance for advancement are still prioritized, Gen Z all but mandates two other requirements: a sense of purpose in their job and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

If you get the chance to speak to a candidate, you definitely need to discuss these aspects, not only as part of the job, but as an integral part of your business. Anything less, and you risk losing the talent you want.

The Follow-Up

Another facet of campus recruiting that can cause turmoil is the follow-up. Once you have a candidate interested in the position, how do you move forward?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to following up, but you certainly need some sort of plan. An email list is a good start if you want to show job openings and what’s going on at your company—an ideal choice for developing your brand name.

However, you may also want to consider other correspondence to keep your candidates close, such as:

  • Exchanging email addresses and keeping in contact
  • Asking for feedback to improve your recruiting process
  • Prioritizing your preferred candidates and using your resources to concentrate on the best of the best

Measure Your Success

A final issue that many campurs recruiters have deals with how to measure their success during recruitment efforts. However, thanks to modern technology, this is becoming easier than ever. The most efficient way to complete this task is through metrics.

Some of the metrics you may want to use include:

  • How many people you signed up for further correspondence
  • How many people eventually applied for the job
  • Whether your candidates are qualified for the job by your internal standards
  • Speed of the recruitment process from event to hire
  • Cost of hiring via campus recruiting

You can also develop your own key performance indicators as you fine-tune your campus recruiting process. The intention is not only to reduce hiring time, but do so at a lower cost and with the highest-quality candidates available.

Times They Are A-Changin’

Business isn’t just business anymore for college-educatied, qualified candidates. It’s about meaning and purpose, creativity, and the chance for advancement in a dynamic, technological world. And even as things change, campus recruiting remains your best bet to find people who can make an immediate impact in your business.

By prioritizing a strong recruiting process and strategy, you put yourself in a premium position to land your preferred candidate. Competition is fierce in the job market, but it’s just as fierce in the recruitment market. Make sure you stay ahead of the game.

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