Summer is upon us and that means a fresh batch of college graduates are eagerly looking to secure jobs to jumpstart their careers. Both local employers and global business entities understand what makes the new grads so attractive is their enthusiasm, which translates into innovative ideas, a willingness to learn, and the fearlessness to “jump right in” to an organization’s culture.
Many hiring managers know that attracting the best talent is critical to their bottom line and ultimately the organization’s future. The irony is that I often talk with organizations who desire to hire college grads, but struggle in making the connection with them. The challenge happens when an organization believes that they don’t have the proper resources, meaning time or budget, or that they’re simply not brand recognizable to college-aged adults. When you’re competing with the Google or Facebooks of the world, your brand’s voice can feel like it can’t compete, but the truth is that no matter your industry, budget, or size, you can be just as successful in college recruiting as the large, well-known firms with the monster budgets.
Successful college recruiting is as simple as executing concepts that most organizations are already pros at doing. It’s just as simple as applying those techniques within the context of college recruiting. Here are three tips to get you on your way.
1. Think Branding
Most firms have a detailed branding strategy to increase and maintain the demand for their products or services. Without intentional approaches to product branding, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to survive in today’s competitive markets. What’s important for companies to realize is that their human resource officers and hiring managers must also be knowledgeable about marketing and branding techniques in order to secure today’s top talent. They should be able to accurately state the company’s culture and effectively publicize it. Branding and marketing, whether in college recruitment or product sales, is a matter of telling a story that encourages action.
Here’s the other kicker that surprises a lot of employers I consult: branding happens whether you’re involved or not. Company review websites like Glassdoor and people relying on their social networks for brand information open up the opportunity for impressions that you can’t control to be made about your organization. To help direct the conversation, take the lead on what is said about your organization by thinking through the desired message and then communicating it through all the platforms where your optimal candidates engage (both online and in-person). If your organization has not thought of this concept before, consider the following questions:
· What do you want potential candidates to think about your organization?
· What do you NOT want potential candidates to think?
· What are the unique experiences of your employees that would make your company attractive?
· How do you want candidates to feel when they interact with your company?
2. Build Relationships
What’s usually the glue that guarantees a customer will commit to your product or service? Most employers would say, “Our relationship with the customer”. This principle remains the same for talent acquisition, especially when it comes to college talent.
A recent Collegefeed survey of 15,000 millennial students found that almost 80% of college-aged adults consider the people and the culture/fit as the most important aspect they look for with potential employers. New job seekers want a genuine connection with your organization. From the very first impression, whether in-person or online, recruiters should be focused on building a relationship, so be sure that your best people are doing the talking. It really helps if interactions are consistent over time (similar to the way college athletes are recruited) or if there’s a mutual connection between the recruiter and student (alumni of the college).
Here’s the other central part of relationship building. It has to continue after one signs on the dotted line. The same Collegefeed survey found that nearly 70% of Millennials look for employers that offer career potential. Today’s employee does not want to do the same mundane job for the rest of their lives (most actually fear this idea). So, when you’re engaging with candidates through Twitter, a job posting, career fair, AND at a student organization meeting, make sure the message is clear: work for us and you’ll have the best opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.
3. Prepare and Act
Finally, successful organizations are usually meticulous planners with multi-year strategic plans and metrics in which to measure their accomplishments. The same focus should be applied to college recruiting. Firms need to create an intentional plan with specific goals and a layered execution (i.e., using multiple approaches simultaneously in order to create brand presence and awareness).
Today’s college students are engaged online, so make sure that you’re talking with them on Facebook and Twitter in addition to your on-campus/in-person visits. Don’t have the budget to travel to campus frequently? That’s okay – remote activities can be just as effective. I strongly recommend that employers collaborate with the career center at their targeted colleges as they’re developing a recruitment strategy and activities calendar. Career centers typically offer employer services (many of which are free or low cost) and can share critical insight into the pulse of the campus that will increase the effectiveness of your plans.
Recruiting top college grads doesn’t have to be overwhelming or seem unachievable. Start with adding these three steps to your recruitment plan. If you’re interested in learning more, attend The University of Florida Career Resource Center’s Employer Retreat ‘Grow with UF – Strategize for Recruitment Success’ on Friday, June 27th. The conference will give organizations like yours the tools to develop and grow an innovative college recruitment strategy for optimal success from our expert team of career professionals, business leaders, campus partners, students, and successful recruiters. All HR directors, hiring managers, and recruiters are invited to attend.
For more information about UF’s 2014 Employer Retreat including event schedule and how to register, please visit: http://www.crc.ufl.edu/Employers/employerRetreat.html.