My eldest son is going to be graduating from University in the coming year and although he’s really excited, he’s also stressed about finding a great job that will pay well and where he’ll be fulfilled. I asked him what that great job would look like and if he could choose, what company would he love to work for. All the companies he mentioned were Fortune 500 or the sexy brands we hear and read about every day. So why not that cool start-up company or that 400 employee organization that is disrupting their industry and have an amazing culture? Well, after doing some research it’s seems that many employers are still not promoting their Employer Brand to this amazing pool of future talent. So, to help you get started, here’s eight best practices for attracting and engaging the student community.
1. Choose Your Target Schools
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket or spread yourself to thin. Identify your primary campus target list and secondary campus list. Your primary schools is where you will invest the most time, money and resources. Often, your list will be based on education programs that match your required hiring qualifications and schools where your current top performing employee’s graduated.
Your secondary list are other schools that are a good source for quality talent but where the number of potential candidates may be lower due to relocation concerns or overall student population for example.
2. Start Recruiting Early
Top employers are getting to the best talent by engaging students as early as their first year of University. In fact, some organizations are now attending high schools for early promotion and education of both their employer brand and industry.
Don’t wait to start recruiting in the fall of their final year – you’ll miss out on the cream of the crop. Have a campus recruitment strategy that keep’s your employer value proposition top of mind 365 days of the year.
3. Build Influential Relationships
Top employers are known throughout campus because they know the importance of having campus and student ambassadors who will promote and endorse their brand and programs. You need to build ongoing relationships with Career Centers and get involved in clubs and associations, athletics, honour societies and faculty to help you promote your organization and have them refer top talent.
4. Connect with Students where they Hang-Out
Top Employer Campus Recruitment Strategies include a balance of On-Campus and Off-Campus Initiatives and Tactics to attract and engage their student target audience. Here’s a few ideas.
Every institution has opportunities for you to promote your brand but only top employers are taking advantage of the best ones.
Onsite Career Centers are there to promote you and your company. Although their top priority is recruiting for student enrollment, their other priority is helping facilitate introductions of students to employers. Career Centers coordinate career and job fairs, student job programs, graduate school’s expo, information sessions, table displays and networking events. All of these coordinated initiative and events give you the opportunity to meet your future talent.
Schools have departments or students who manage online and offline advertising located in academic or high traffic campus areas. Top employers leverage these communication channels. As students walk the halls or watch the upcoming school events on cafeteria screens, your brand could be showcased in an attractive and engaging way that makes your company stand out from the crowd. Include on-site advertising throughout the year in your campus recruitment strategy.
Every successful campus recruitment strategy includes a social media and mobile plan. You should have a clearly defined content strategy on social channels like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube if you want to engage the best possible talent.
Top employers often host their own open house or career fair. Consider coordinating an event and inviting students to visit your facility to experience your brand. Have your employees participate so students can meet potential future colleagues and can witness first hand what their future could look and feel like.
5. Speak their Language
One thing is clear, what attracts a Baby Boomer, a Gen X, a Millennial and a Gen Z is very different. Gen Z’s top motivators are money and job security. They want to accumulate rewarding experiences. They wanted to be mentored in an environment where they can advance quickly. Employers who understand what is important to their target student audience and communicates it effectively are being perceived as an employer of choice.
Stand out by using story telling to attract and engage talent online. Provide a human face to your organization. Build an online personality through sharing your employee testimonials and sharing case studies of prior hired students who have grown and developed at your company. Be transparent about what’s good about your company and the job – good or not so good. Let students experience the inside of your company by showing pictures of corporate and social events. Many students love gaming and competitions. Consider launching a challenge that can uncover relevant and top candidates for your company.
6. Recruit Once – Hire Twice
I love this saying because it says it all. Top Employers are not just hiring student graduates – they are creating attractive summer, co-op and intern programs that allow them to hire the best talent. It’s important to expose your brand to students long before other employers and long before students seek out their first career opportunity. Have a well defined program and effective hiring process for summer students, co-ops and interns. This is a low-risk way to find star employees to hire after graduation. This allows you to assess the students’ skill sets and test for cultural fit; it’s like a 4 month interview so you can be guaranteed to make the right match.
7. Give Great Candidate Experience
The candidate experience has significant influence over the way an employer brand is perceived by the student community. Gen Z candidates are well-connected online. They know what a good candidate experience should be like and won’t hesitate to share their experience, positive or otherwise, with peers and social networks.
Like any candidate, Gen Z applicants want to be recognized and respected while engaging with an organization. If you work hard to provide candidates with an overall ‘A grade’ candidate experience through defined practices and policies for Management, Brand Ambassadors and Recruiters, this alone will differentiate you and have quality students waiting at your door.
8. Measure, Measure and Measure
Employers who measure every aspect of their campus recruitment strategy know exactly what works and what doesn’t work for them. Make sure you set goals and KPI’s and measure for results. You need to know the best schools to source talent, the best channels to communicate your employer brand, the best type of content that engages your target audience and the best initiatives that will attract and engage top talent to your company.
If you’re just building your campus recruitment strategy you can’t go wrong with incorporating some of these ideas into your plan. Good luck with building your plan!
Written by Colette O’Neill of ADVANCE Human Capital Solutions