College recruiting is back after two years of the pandemic. According to new research, 65 percent of companies are increasing their investments in technology related to college recruiting, 57 percent are increasing the number of events, and 55 percent are increasing the number of college hires. Unfortunately, many companies are stumbling their return to college recruiting.
What is driving the return to college campuses? According to Aptitude Research’s report, “The State of Campus Recruiting,” four priorities are driving the focus on college recruiting:
- Meeting specific business hiring needs
- Re-establishing internship programs that had been curtailed during the pandemic
- Achieving diversity sourcing and hiring goals
- Showcasing employer brands
Companies returning to college campuses are finding themselves having to overcome challenges, according to Aptitude Research.
Too Many Systems
Most companies use multiple systems to support campus recruiting, including sourcing, recruitment marketing, interview management, and events. One in four companies is using more than six different solutions to support campus recruiting. However, using multiple systems can result in inconsistency of data and poor quality. Integrating these systems presents additional challenges. According to the Aptitude Research study, 93 percent of companies using multiple systems to support campus recruiting admitted that they are not all fully integrated. Creating and maintaining data across numerous systems takes time and is prone to error, especially for fast-moving businesses.
Fifty-three percent of recruiters are feeling more burned out this year than last year, even as 30 percent of companies state that reducing recruiter turnover is a top priority, according to the Aptitude Research report. Recruiters provide tremendous value to organizations by bringing in the right people to contribute to business performance. They also provide value to candidates by encouraging career growth and empowerment in their journeys. In many cases, recruiters are the first point of contact between a candidate and an employer.
The fundamental work of a recruiter is personal, meaningful, and purposeful. However, the realities of today’s labor market have made the job more stressful and administrative in nature, making it hard for recruiters to scale. Campus recruiters find meaning in connecting with talent, watching students get their first jobs, and being the first relationship within the organization. Yet, when recruiters were asked how they spend their time, most recruiters said they were doing administrative work.
Find College Talent Early
My experience with college recruiting at Honeywell and Medtronic revealed that the most successful companies identified target interns and hires early in their college careers, as early as when they were sophomores. We held virtual and in-person events with business, engineering, and clinical research student associations and female and people of color associations or resource groups. We posted videos on university sites and social media about our new research and product development and videos of young workers speaking about our work culture. New research shows that Generation Z prefers to hear directly from last year’s college hires filming themselves, rather than slick marketing videos.
The company first built relationships with key college talent with hiring managers and recruiters. We offered them early internships to watch their performance and gauge their ability to learn first-hand and deepen the relationship. Additional internships were offered after their junior years. During their internships, we had recruiters hold engagement interviews with the interns to identify their career goals, desired working culture, and specific areas of interest. The interns often presented the results of their projects to top management, further building their relationship with the company.
We learned to make job offers in the early fall of their senior years to show our interest and commitment to them. With the MBAs and some of the engineering students, we offered them positions in our MBA or engineering rotation programs. The MBA rotation program moved them into roles in different businesses and different functions, such as marketing and finance to accelerate their learning by doing. The engineering program did the same by rotating them into various engineering roles, such as design, quality, and manufacturing. These rotation programs were a key attraction to the company.
Build relationships with professors and career counselors
We also learned to build relationships with university staff by offering them the opportunity to judge technology or research contests. We also donated equipment to their science and engineering labs.
My experience is that employer brand — that is the company’s mission and the chill work the company is doing for the betterment of society – pay and benefits, perks, and using the latest technology were key determinants of attracting the best students. In addition, having professors and university career counselors recommend the company was significant.
Below, in the table “Influence on Attracting Early Talent” are Aptitude Research’s findings on the critical factors in attracting college students
As with any other business process, college recruiting needs to have measures. The measures I used include the following:
- Percentage of targeted students hired
- Percentage of offers that were accepted
- Diversity percentages of targeted students, internships, and hires
- Quality of hire, as measured by turnover and performance appraisals
- Cost per internship and hire
- Engagement on different landing pages and social media
Finally, how should you address poor technology? Make sure you have a competent applicant tracking system that can serve as the central repository of college talent and target communications. These systems allow the company to track the status of applications, maintain relationships with college recruits through texts, send timely and personalized communications, and measure progress. It is essential to have personal information about each student, such as GPA, membership in clubs, internships, key career, and work culture interests to allow for better data-driven decisions in the future.
Companies don’t need to stumble their return to college recruiting. Renewing your focus on your company’s brand and focusing on the talent your organization needs is important. Upgrading your technology, starting early, and having continual communications with your targeted college hires will improve your success.
Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and managing partner of InnovationOne.. He works with companies to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at www.VictorHRConsultant.com.