As the U.S. economy continues to improve, demand for college graduates is projected to increase 13 percent in 2013 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2013 survey. The best candidates are becoming even more highly sought-after, receiving multiple offers simultaneously. If companies want to grow in what will be an increasingly competitive environment, they will need a strategy to vie for graduates.
In order to compete for these candidates, companies must lay the foundation for a comprehensive, phased talent acquisition strategy. They must reevaluate their current practices to out-execute competitive employment options, with a focus on the basics of campus recruiting efforts and revamp innovative marketing strategies targeted toward selected schools.
In looking critically at the recruiting process, a two-phase model works best. Phase 1 is focused on engaging with the school, while Phase 2 is focused on the candidates available within targeted schools. Let’s begin with Phase 1.
Phase 1: School Selection
It is important to know the needs of the hiring managers/departments and the profile of choice schools. Conducting in-depth research on multiple schools is better than falling into the habit of choosing a school because “the company has always recruited there,” “the school is close,” or “the school is a hot school.” Even if a school is considered “hot,” after all, it may be “hot” for skills that don’t match your organization’s needs. Once due diligence is complete, create a fact-based case to your hiring managers about the schools you think are the best fit. Managers are much more responsive to a well-built case, but still Managers should buy-in: don’t force them to recruit from a specific school. Educate the hiring managers, work with them, and, yes, “sell them” on the benefits they’ll gain from college recruiting efforts.
Finally, narrow the focus and select as few schools as possible. Invest the time to become employer of choice for the institution.
Phase 2: Becoming an Employer of Choice
Your time and efforts risk being wasted if your organization does not emerge as “employer of choice.” Use the following strategies to build buzz, secure student’s trust, and assert your company at the top of the students’ list:
- Maximize your relationship with the Career Center- The Career Center is a recruiter’s best entry point into the college ecosystem. Job seekers on campus rely on the Career Center’s resources, and so should recruiters. Take it to the next level. Offer to act as a resource for students by conducting mock interviews or by providing resume critiques. It’s no surprise that the number one reason students go to their Career Center is for resume feedback, so become part of that process. Build deep relationships with industry experts at the Career Center who can help your organization network with student groups on campus.
- Build the employer-school brand- Target student groups (e.g. finance club) for related skills. Present at summer programs. Communicate using social media to reinforce your value proposition and drive traffic to your website. Understand and cater to students’ preferences. Use social tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn to reach younger audiences.
- Use Faculty and Departments to your advantage- Research Deans and faculty members of specific schools. Identify professors that serve as unofficial “career mentors” to their students and will keep your company in mind when students seek out job advice. Having access to this “inner circle” can result in an opportunity to speak during a class or other presentation.
Use the unique college ecosystem to your advantage, select the right schools and network with stakeholders across the university to grow a following. Companies with the most successful recruiting programs make their team available for on-campus events and online via social networks, so that interested students can get information about your organization through the channels that they visit frequently. A well-planned strategy will result in a robust pipeline of potential new hires with skills that can fill strategic key opportunities in your workforce.
Gabriella Angiolillo joined Peoplefluent shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt University with a major in Human and Organizational Development and minor in Financial Economics. As an Associate Talent Management Consultant in Peoplefluent’s HR department, Gabriella is able to explore the intersection between human capital, organizational effectiveness, and software. She utilizes and implements Peoplefluent’s own software products internally in initiatives spanning from Apply with LinkedIn integration on Peoplefluent’s website to creating a benefits page in Socialtext, an enterprise social platform.