College Recruiting: The Cost of Bad Hiring, and a Solution in Micro-Internships

The process of hiring early career professionals is broken. Unlike hiring experienced professionals, we cannot rely on prior work experience to assess skills and fit, and we know that the school attended, major, and GPA don’t predict a good hire (especially in light of the recent college admissions scandal). In fact, early career professionals cannot assess fit, either, as an internship or two, recruiting events, or conversations with alumni don’t provide context to understand what company, role, or industry best aligns with their interests. The impact: companies annually spend billions to recruit college students, and more than 50% leave during the first year, costing businesses an additional $15-30 billion.

Traditional tactics – such as career fairs, on-site internships, and recruiting from the same schools, majors and GPAs – just aren’t enough anymore. Fortunately, the solution is right in front of us, as the staffing industry has demonstrated the benefits of the temp-to-perm model for decades. By applying a similar model, called “micro-internships,” hiring managers are happy to have on-demand access to an extra set of hands for short-term, professional assignments that may not be the best use of their, or their colleagues’, time. Unlike temp or staffing models of old, micro-internships are easier to leverage.

  • Easy: Busy professional can launch projects in less than five minutes, gaining value from projects that would otherwise take them five to 40 hours to complete.
  • On demand: Micro-internships are available on-demand, with professionals setting due dates within a few days to a few weeks.
  • Remote: As most micro-internships are remote, there are no security cards, office space, or other challenges of having a temp in the office.
  • No administrative burdens: Even the emerging “gig economy” models place employment law burdens on employers, and have large fees associated with conversion to a full-time hire. In contrast, micro-internships are structured to eliminate employment law risks, and have no conversion fee, as the goal is to encourage hiring.

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

How do micro-internships work and what are their benefits?

Companies including Leo Burnett, Microsoft, CBRE, Dell and M. Holland leverage micro-internships to support other human capital initiatives.

  • Early access: Micro-internships are short-term and aren’t limited by seasonal constraints of typical campus recruiting. As a result, companies can identify potential internship or full-time candidates before competitors, and build relationships over time through subsequent projects.
  • Expanded talent pool: Companies recognize the challenges of competing for talent, but also the cost and constraints associated with expanding on-campus recruiting. The short-term, low-touch nature of micro-internships helps companies expand beyond traditional college talent pools, providing access to candidates who might otherwise be missed.
  • Enhanced diversity: Oftentimes, hiring managers push back on candidates who fall outside their typical hiring profile. As the commitment with micro-internships is low, HR leaders have found greater acceptance of candidates from outside traditional focus schools, majors, and backgrounds. This provides opportunities to those from diverse backgrounds and enhances the talent pipeline, while driving sustainable efforts as hiring managers experience the grit, potential, and ambition of these Career Launchers firsthand.
  • Improved performance: Through “auditions” that micro-internships provide, companies can more effectively evaluate a candidate’s abilities, especially core skills (e.g., communication, problem solving, adaptability) that are vital for professional success, but impossible to otherwise assess.
  • Improved retention: Micro-internships enable companies to evaluate candidates and empower career launchers to assess if the company is the right fit. Through mutual test drives, both companies and candidates can assess fit upfront, something that is increasingly important given the cost and frequency of attrition.

The college recruiting process is broken, but the fix might not be as complicated as you’d think. micro-internships provide early access to high-potential candidates, and allow company leaders to see in action a broader range of career launchers – those who may not be from elite universities or have a 4.0 GPA, but have the “right stuff” to succeed in their organization. And, they prepare students for good jobs by offering earlier career development opportunities and a chance to see if certain industries and companies are the right fit. Micro-internships are a win-win, and every hiring professional should consider them as part of their college recruiting program.

Jeffrey Moss

Jeffrey Moss
Jeffrey Moss is the founder and CEO of Parker Dewey LLC, a company focused on addressing the challenges associated with college-to-career transitions through micro-internships.

Jeffrey Moss

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