Need to boost your company awareness with college students? Want to get your company name buzzing around campus? Here are 7 tips you should incorporate in your company’s college recruiting efforts that will make students line up to work for you:
1. Know your audience.
“But, Jenny, my audience is college students. Duh.” Okay, smarty pants. You got me there. However, if you dive into the demographics and do some analysis you will notice less of a blanket across all institutions. There are probably several universities in your area. They specialize in different fields of academics. Then, the respective schools within those universities (e.g. Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Law, etc.) may or may not align with the strategic needs of your organization. Explore various majors and their equivalents at other schools. Similar to how companies like to come up with fancy pants names for positions (such as Sales Representative, Business Development, Customer Specialist, or whatever else…) there is a similar trend among different majors. For example, Informatics is Computer Science is Computer Intelligence when it comes to majors. I, unfortunately, learned that the hard way by missing key opportunities. Do your research; save yourself.
2. Widen your scope.
Please, do not limit yourself to only Career Fairs! There are several different initiatives that are more cost effective and allow you to be involved more frequently than just going to The Joe Schmo Career Fair every Fall (yes, I said Joe Schmo to represent a generic career fair). I would bet $4 (because I am not much of a risk-taker) that the majority of Career Offices have opportunities to participate in mock interviews. Many students are required to take a course that focuses on job preparation; if most majors have to do this, and you happen to be interested in, say, Social Workers, you could pop over to the School of Social Work’s Career Office and offer to conduct a mock interview. The point: this is a no-cost-win-win approach.
3. Contact professors.
Do not be intimidated or dismissive because professors will jump for joy if you contact them about future opportunities for their students. They want their students to succeed, they know who is excelling in class, and most students are required to complete an internship for college credit. Here is a simple formula: hop on the school’s website, locate the Staff/Faculty Page, and send ten targeted, strategic emails. Maybe a professor would like you to come present on a relevant topic in class. You oblige, and as you present you say, “Hello, everyone, I am a whoever from So & So. Have you ever heard of us? You haven’t? Insert company pitch here.” Then, BOOM, now those students have. This idea can be used for student organizations too, so get involved on campus.
4. Have an engaging company pitch.
Essentially, it is your company’s elevator speech, but tailored to interest college students. This tip is most relevant in a Career Fair setting because it is common that you have five students waiting in line to find out who you are or if you have an opportunity for them. If you can’t interest them they will surely leave your line. Corral those kiddos, and captivate them as you describe why your company is the coolest place to work in the universe. After you woo them with your pitch, seal the deal with some visuals like an electronic presentation and handouts (help your Marketing department help you by giving them a fully strategized concept to run with). You might be a smaller local company, so blow their socks off and give a sly, snarky look to your neighbors like, Macy’s and HP, because you got this.
5. It’s all about the swag.
College students love free stuff. They (usually) do not have any money, and if they do, they do not want to spend it on the type of swag that you can hook them up with. “Yes, of course I will take your 3XL shirt even though I am a Medium, because it’s free. A rusty paperclip? I don’t know what I can do with that, but since it’s free, I’ll take it!” We see a significant increase in booth traffic giving away swag at career fairs. You do not need to spend your entire marketing budget to accomplish this, but you do need to be unique. Students are going to use all of your free pens and then forget them in the library, or drop them in the trash. However, if you give away something with your logo on it that no one else has, or something actually fun like a Slinky, then you will leave a lasting impression. Because of your swag, students will seek you out that were not originally planning to stop by. You could invest thousands of dollars on giveaways. Everyone likes nice bags and tablet covers, but do not rule out the effect of something creative that is low cost. Maybe a small screwdriver, a rubber duck, or even a rusty paperclip? (Oh no she didn’t!)
6. Know the importance of class standing.
If you don’t take a student’s class standing into consideration, especially if the open position has requirements, you could be wasting everyone’s time. Understand your desired start date with a certain position and internship, and then your strategic questioning may uncover a recruit’s graduation date, which is need-to-know information. For example, you may want to hire a college senior for the Marketing Intern role you have open since your end goal is to make that person full-time after they graduate. Unfortunately, who presents him or herself as what you believe to be the perfect candidate might secretly be a freshman. I have seen a student jump through the hoops of the interview process, and then a few months later that person changed majors, and much like Jay-Z, they are on to the next one.
7. Feedback is key.
Your boss instructs you to increase your college presence. You feel like you did that. So, what do you have to show for it? Hopefully you have visited career fairs, conducted mock interviews, and have a huge box of company-branded back scratchers, freshly delivered from Amazon. Still, activity does not always correlate to results. Your boss wants data to show that your effort has positively impacted the business. Track your initial contact all the way through a hire? That would be great! However, you cannot just magically make people get hired. Start simple and obtain feedback from all of your efforts. At careers fairs, you collect stacks of of resumes, so use those email addresses to send the students an online survey asking for improvements, to rank knowledge on company brand, and to rate your overall booth appeal. Ask for suggestions from the student organization you worked with. This is a great way to make constructive changes and to see what is appealing to students.
You can find potential hires almost anywhere, but it is most valuable to find great talent that is eager for an opportunity. Students are typically eager and not burnt out on the workforce. Target this thriving talent pool and get your college recruiting strategy into action!