New to Campus Recruiting? Follow These Four Best Practices to Meet Your Goals

With a deficit of talent in most sectors, campus recruiting has gone from a nice to-do to an absolute must. Not only does this source of hire come equipped with degrees (or, will have them soon), they’re hungry to make an impact and get their professional careers started.

Recent and soon-to-be college graduates also happen to be a company’s deepest pool of talent ready to be hired, not to mention the biggest source of future new hires. In fact, 61 million Gen Zers, or those born after 1996, are about to enter the workforce, more than Generation X and two-thirds the size of the Baby Boomers. It’s a ready-made pipeline of potential.

Getting campus recruiting right means the difference between having the talent needed to fill the open jobs of today, and tomorrow, or coming up severely short.

To help, here are four best practices that should be part of every organization’s campus recruiting strategy:

Identify your target skills and schools. Know the hiring needs you have now, but also what your trajectory of hires is. Your goal should not only be on filling today’s open jobs, but also lining up talent for future openings. Going into campus recruiting with a narrow vision will set you — and the students you meet with — up for disappointment.

Ask yourself, “What areas of the organization would benefit from a pipeline of entry level talent that we need today, but can also grow into our future leaders?”

Once you’ve zeroed in on your hiring profile and identified current and future skills gaps, you’ll need to target specific schools to recruit from.

Did you know that Penn State and the University of Michigan top the list of schools to recruit supply chain management new grads, or that Carnegie Mellon University and the California Institute of Technology are two of the best colleges to attend as a software developer, or that the top universities for professional sales education include Arizona State, Plymouth State and Weber State?

Which degrees or programs align with the talent you’re looking for?

PREMIUM CONTENT: North America Internal Staff Survey 2019: Internal staff career plans

Build on-campus relationships. Having a target list of schools to recruit from also means you can build critical relationships with on-campus organizations, like career centers, faculty, student groups and clubs, athletics, honor societies and, particularly in the U.S., the Greek life community.

Think beyond traditional methods of reaching potential recruits. What about the Student Ambassadors program? Or, the school newspaper? Building relationships with the right groups will enable you to develop a targeted campus recruiting strategy. Just like in any talent acquisition approach, the more targeted you are, the better your results will be.

It’s also a good idea to approach these relationships the same way you would a general networking situation – what value can you provide to them? What can your company offer to benefit the campus and the community? Consider offering a resume workshop, mock interview training, or career coaching. Giving back will help you build deeper relationships, and realize a better return on your campus recruiting efforts.

Create a year-round strategy. You should not look at campus recruiting as an activity only to be done from fall to spring. Consider how you can recruit outside the school year. Internships and summer workshops are a great way to try out soon-to-be grads, and build a sense of loyalty to your organization — all while giving them invaluable work experience and mentorship. It’s a win-win.

It’s important to meet with students face-to-face throughout the calendar year. College is a critical time for any young person, and maintaining consistent contact is important. This is when their dreams and plans for the future are taking shape in a relatively short amount of time. Remember your audience — it’s important to get to know them — and make sure you have plans beyond campus events to make the most of your time.

Know where your target talent “hangs out.” Recruiting new and soon-to-be grads does not happen only on campus. Find out which social media platforms your target recruit is hanging out on. Which LinkedIn groups are they members of? The alumni page is a great place to post jobs and network with graduates.

Also consider special events these recruits attend — hackathons, diversity conventions, and meet-ups, for example. Are you in tune with the events they are hosting and attending? You’ll know by the invites you receive, or don’t. If you feel like you’re hearing about things after the fact, find out how you can get involved. Eventually, you might consider how your company can host your own event for students.

Building a college recruiting plan means showing up for more than just career fairs. Target your graduate recruits the same way you would any other type of talent — know what you’re looking for, who you want to meet, and find out where they are.

One of the best things about my job is placing a great new grad in their first big job and watching them grow into impactful leaders within the organizations they join. There are some impressive students about to hit the workforce — and I hope you get the chance to meet and work with them.


Jeralyn Hawes

Jeralyn Hawes
Jeralyn Hawes is director of Client Services at Sevenstep.

Jeralyn Hawes

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