The Top 5 Tips for Effective Year-Round Campus Recruitment

Student recruiting shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether hiring new grads for full-time entry-level positions or current students for internships, co-op placements, or summer jobs, schools can become a dependable pipeline for your hiring process. With a high number of students graduating or looking for summer work, now is the time to double down on your campus recruiting efforts.

To start with, employees who began as company interns have a one-year retention rate that’s over 10% higher than those who didn’t. Imbuing your applicant pool with candidates who are already known to your company makes hiring decisions easier.

You can also consider campus recruiting a chance to market your company and promote your employer brand. Showing up on campus or partnering with university career centers gets your company name out there. There’s also the potential to grow your talent community and listservs exponentially.

A picture containing college campus buildings, sky, mountain

University and college campuses provide a wealth of potential candidates for you to engage with.

Like all hiring practices, there are many ways to go about it, and some are more effective than others. Here are five tips to streamline your employee selection by leveraging campus recruiting.

1.  Build relationships from every source available

Career fairs and employer visits to campus are good opportunities to start a traditional student recruitment strategy. Depending on the size of your recruiting budget and the location of your target schools, these events might not be cost-efficient to travel to multiple times per year. Think outside the box and leverage every channel you can think of, starting in-house.

Source your coworkers to see if they have any relationships with former professors or supervisors who can share information about employment opportunities with their students. If you keep hearing the same schools coming up, it’s a good sign they mesh well with your company culture and employer brand.

Connect with alumni networks and ask to be notified of any networking events, submit employment opportunities through alumni portals and newsletters, and offer sign-ups to your company’s talent community or career updates page. The more touchpoints you add, the more opportunities for potential employees to engage with you.

2. Utilize the career center and existing frameworks

Building a strong relationship between your HR department and school career centers can be more cost-efficient for recruiters with a smaller budget. Career centers organize networking opportunities and can coordinate internship opportunities at your company. Depending on your recruitment volume at the school, see if scheduling interviews on-campus is also an option.

Keep an eye out for schools that use connections with industry partners as one of their main selling points. The University of Waterloo has a robust co-op program considered one of its main differentiators and dedicates an entire section of its website to encouraging employers to hire their students. Schools that have the campus recruiting process down to a science — or an info packet — have done much of the work for you.

Two people shaking hands

Don’t limit your campus recruitment strategy to on-campus career fairs — reach out via social media and through alumni networks to cast an even wider net.

3. Pair your role with the right school

Look at which areas of your company have positions to fill, then match these roles with schools that have strong programs in related disciplines. Companies looking to fill out their IT departments will want to build relationships with schools known for their computer science programs. Marketing and finance positions can be sourced from business schools.

Linking to schools with similar ideals as your company strengthens both brands. If your company values diversity and inclusion initiatives, partnering with a school that is also addressing these concerns adds credibility to both programs. Reaching out with a specific reason for doing so sets you apart and will make your partnership offer more attractive to schools.

4.  Keep tabs on trends in education

If you’re looking to recruit outside the box and consider more than work experience, follow trends in education. With the pandemic stifling practical opportunities for students, schools are innovating to distinguish their students from their peers. Recruiters need to innovate alongside them and use these innovative programs as another talent pipeline for entry-level positions.

“Micro-credentials” and “micro-certifications” initiatives are being developed at universities across the country to recognize technical and “soft” skills students may learn outside the classroom. In some cases, like McMaster University’s MacChangers program, students solve real-world problems alongside local organizations. With students graduating to work in jobs that may not even exist yet, focusing on skills that are transferrable and adaptable may be more reliable for employers to judge candidate aptitude than any resume.

5.  Speak to Gen Z

Gen Z values communication, diversity and inclusion efforts, social responsibility, growth, and work-life balance. This means avoiding the candidate black hole at all costs by communicating regularly with prospective applicants and keeping talent communities and listservs you manage up-to-date. Stay relevant with news about job applications, campus visits, and company initiatives, and you won’t have to worry about students hitting the Unsubscribe button.

Remember that you’re not just competing with other hiring managers for students’ time and attention — your communications are threatening to be drowned out by social media updates, online ads, and regular old spam emails. You don’t need to be on top of every TikTok trend and meme on the internet, but being aware of the issues and needs of your student pipeline goes a long way towards getting them engaged with your brand and keeping your company top-of-mind when it comes to job applications.

Resumes are just a highlight reel of a candidate’s best moments and likely don’t tell you what you would really need to know about them: their skills and behaviors. Where someone went to school, the time they took to graduate, and their self-written CVs don’t tell you if they’ll be a good fit at your company.

Instead of combing through resumes and leaving unsuccessful candidates wondering whether you’ve even received their application, let Knockri’s automated behavioral interview assessment handle initial screening and communications for you. Our scoring system predicts job performance based on skills and behaviors, not personality traits or prior experience. Our platform can handle thousands of pre-employment assessments and find you top candidates based on the skills you need. Book a demo with our HR solution consultant to chat with us about streamlining your campus recruitment strategy.