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Table of Contents

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Recruiting on college campuses can be more time and labor intensive, but it can also have a great payout. College campuses provide a vast talent pool and can be a reliable talent pipeline as you establish a company brand and presence among the students.

What Is Campus Recruitment?

Campus recruitment is attracting, sourcing and recruiting through college campuses. Campus recruiting is a great way to fill internship openings, entry-level management positions, roles that require niche knowledge or even mid-level positions when recruiting from Masters programs.

On-Campus Recruitment Versus Off-Campus Recruitment

Campus recruitment can occur by physically recruiting on the campus premises by hosting on-campus events such as career fairs, or from off campus by tapping into the campus network without traveling to the location. Off-campus recruitment can save costs but can be less effective. Off-campus recruitment can look like posting jobs on campus job boards, attending virtual events like job fairs or virtually hosting events like an internship panel for multiple campus communities . This method has been especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic with travel and in-person activities being limited.

Why Campus Recruiting Is So Valuable

Campus recruitment provides multi-faceted benefits for companies that choose to invest in it.

  • Access to talent. Recruiting on campuses can vastly expand your talent pool to potential candidates that have relevant knowledge and potentially niche skills for a wide variety of roles and industries.
  • Opportunity to establish an employer brand with the next generation of the workforce. Even if the students aren’t ready to join your organization immediately after graduation, establishing a strong employer brand with individuals that have many more years in the labor market can pay off down the line when they are looking for new opportunities. Already having positive interactions with your company and being familiar with your brand and culture will help them keep your company in mind and give you a more competitive edge in the future.
  • Diversity Initiatives. According to Pew Research Center, GenZ is the most diverse generation we have seen. Recruiting on campuses is a great way to access ethnically and racially diverse talent in addition to intellectually and experientially diverse talent.

What Does a Campus Recruiter Do?

A campus recruiter spends time developing communication strategies, reaching out to universities’ connections such as clubs, career centers and professors, planning and attending events on and off campus, posting jobs on university job boards, communicating with students and potentially interviewing students for roles.

6 Effective Campus Recruitment Strategies

While building out your campus recruitment processes, consider these six strategies to build out an effective program and presence.

1. Prioritize Your Focus Campuses

With thousands of universities across the United States alone, it would require a lot of resources to have a presence in every one. Decide what colleges you want to focus on. You can determine this by looking at the most common institutions your current employees are from, considering physical proximity of your offices to campuses or by targeting colleges that rank high in programs you would want to recruit for.

2. Get Connected With the University’s Career Services

After deciding which colleges to recruit from, reach out to their career services departments to learn more about what opportunities their campus offers. Depending on the size of the university, they might have individual subject-focused colleges that have their own career centers, like a career center focused on the university’s college of engineering or the business school.

Keep in mind that some colleges require that organizations pay a fee to access their resources or to be able to recruit on campus.

3. Post Jobs on the University’s Career Site

Many universities are moving toward using Handshake, but some may still have their own career pages. Learn what the institutions you are targeting use, then post relevant jobs and on-campus events that you are hosting to their site. In addition to the current students, many alumni are active on their university’s career site!

4. Develop a Communication Strategy

To begin having communication with the students, develop a strategy on how to contact and attract more applicants. Consider utilizing an RSVP list for an event you are hosting on campus, asking the careers office for students who might be interested, collecting resumes at a career fair, hosting a booth on campus and collecting the information of the students who are interested. You can also look at past applicants on the university’s career site or utilize the company’s career site to source students with the relevant degrees and academic years you are looking for.

After creating a contact list, develop a communication strategy relevant to your goals and objectives. You can do this by sending out relevant jobs, informing students of future on-campus events hosted by your company or sharing more about your company’s brand and culture to appeal to future applicants.

5. Host On-Campus Events

Different universities might have different rules or event opportunities, but common on-campus events include:

  • Attending career fairs
  • Being a guest speaker for a class or club
  • Hosting information sessions about your company and upcoming opportunities
  • Sponsoring a club event
  • Sitting at booths in the buildings
  • Hosting an event such as a hackathon, mini case competition or service project
  • Holding on-site interviews through the career center

For maximum impact, publish on-campus events on the university’s career page, if the system allows, and communicate with students ahead of time to build awareness. Also consider advertising through relevant clubs or having professors announce events in their classes.

Face-to-face opportunities are more effective and favored, though there are also opportunities for virtual events.

6. Be Consistent

Campus recruiting is time and labor intensive, but it can be a very fruitful pipeline. Showing up for an event just once a year might not be enough for you to really establish a company identity and employer brand. Thousands of new students enter a university at any given year and semester. Be consistent in relationships with career centers, faculty, administration and clubs to continue to be top of mind with students. Establishing a strong brand with students can be essential in years to come when these current students enter the workforce looking for new jobs.

Other Tips for Appealing to Up-and-Coming Talent

GenZ is a generation with unique values and interests. Consider ways to appeal to this generation of talent.

  • Adapt your careers site. Ensure that your careers page is set up to support your campus recruiting efforts. Share information that is relevant to that demographic, including internship information. Many GenZ students apply for jobs via a mobile device, so ensure that your careers site is mobile optimized. You can even look at creating a separate landing page for your college applicants.
  • Focus on values, ethics and activism in addition to product/service. GenZ values social activism more than any other generation. They care about working at a company with strong values and ethics that align with their own values and they want to see those values in action. When looking to attract talent on campus, consider sharing information about your company’s social initiatives and impact, community involvement or volunteering opportunities through the company.
  • Advertise a full value-proposition beyond just salary. GenZ still values salary, but is also interested in other things such as company perks, work-life balance and doing interesting work.
  • Don’t come empty handed. It is common for companies to bring refreshments and/or swag to events. Consider bringing some small company swag items to put at your booths or have food catered if hosting an information session in the evening.
  • Utilize alumni from within your company. Having alumni attend events not only eases the burden on HR, but provides a more personal experience for the students as well. Having that common connection naturally makes the experience feel more personal.
  • Think of ways to stand out. Many companies have established presences on campuses so there is competition in engaging students. Consider ways to stand out from the other companies!

How To Build a Campus Recruiting Team

Many mid to large companies participate in on-campus recruiting. There is a variety of options when it comes to dedicated campus recruiting investment between having large teams that recruit from college campuses around the country to side efforts in the standard recruiters’ job description. Consider the following steps as you build your campus recruiting team.

Evaluate Budget

Begin by creating and reviewing a budget for your team. Things to include are the cost of travel, university access or sponsor fees, swag or other company branded items, collateral to give away at events like flyers or business cards, food expenses, event registration fees, branded decorations such as tablecloths and banners and, of course, the cost of recruiters.

By evaluating costs, you can then decide how many people to have on your team, how many universities to focus on, university locations and how much traveling your team can do.

Set Goals

Determine your business needs and how campus recruiting can support the business. Determine goals based on that intersection and establish metrics. Your goals can focus on brand awareness, filling roles, building a talent pool, establishing meaningful connections and more.

Some metrics can include cost-per-hire, number of events attended, number of qualified candidates (per event, per college, per role), talent pool size, source of hire, student points of contact, social media engagement, resumes collected, retention rate and more.

Establish Team Roles

Roles can vary based on the size of your campus recruiting team. Some roles to consider are:

  • Campus Recruiting Director. Someone to set the strategy, lead the team, determine budget and resource allocation and track initiatives and metrics.
  • Campus Recruiters. Individuals that attend on-campus events, conduct interviews and ultimately place students into roles. The campus recruiters are the main people communicating the brand directly to students.
  • Campus Recruiting Coordinators. Individuals to help schedule events and interviews, coordinate company collateral and swag orders and figure out other logistics to help the team move smoothly.
  • Employer Branding Specialist. Individuals that focus on attracting the right talent. Their role can include creating collateral, managing the communication strategy and communicating the employer value proposition.

Identify and Engage High-Performing Alumni in Initiatives

Identify high-performing alumni from your focus universities that are currently working for your company. Have them get involved with career fairs, information sessions and other events to provide a personal touch to your campus recruiting efforts.

How To Know if Your Program is Successful

Knowing your company’s objectives for recruiting on campus will determine whether your program is successful or not. Were you wanting to fill all your summer internship roles? Were you wanting to build a long-term talent pipeline?

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Campus Recruitment

Campus recruiting software is a recruiting software specialized for campus recruiting workflows. They can help with anything from sourcing to assisting with career fairs and recruitment events and more.
The best place to start looking is at the univerisity’s careers services or career development office website. They often have their upcoming events listed or state directly on their website how to get involved.
“This is another example where Employer Branding matters. Have great signage for the fair, make sure there is something that allows people to approach the booth and hold conversations without issue, like a hightop table or something like that. I tend to have posters with a QR code for informational sessions students can place on their calendars, or to even submit a fast-tracked resume for an internship opening. Swag drawings or gift card drawings are also popular ways to get people to come to your booth. Make sure the drawings are items that students will actually want and/or use, they don’t need another pen, or USB charger, or coozie.” – Kelly Loudermilk “During my undergrad, I found that the company booths with candy and food will bring more traffic to your booth. College students love food almost as much as they love looking for a new job 😉 Other eye-catching additions to your booth can make a world of difference (i.e., monitor with a video playing, a nice backdrop, friendly, well-dressed recruiters.)” – Chris Ruddy

Rachel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. She served as the President of the BYU SHRM Chapter and has been involved in the Utah SHRM’s college relationship committee since. Rachel specializes in Talent Management, Talent Branding, Employee Onboarding, and HR Program Management.

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