Take Your College Recruiting Strategy to the Next Level: What to do Before, During, and After the Career Fair - Part 1

Industry Trends
Friday, Jun 06, 2014
Take Your College Recruiting Strategy to the Next Level: What to do Before, During, and After the Career Fair - Part 1

This is Part 1 of a three-part series that will discuss helpful strategies to begin funneling valuable college graduates into your hiring pipeline.

Part 1 – Before the Career Fair

Step 1: Attract your target audience with your employer branding. As recent proprietary research shows, having a well-designed career site is imperative to attracting the best talent to your organization. In this case, your target audience is current students and recent alumni. There are several elements to include in your career site that will best target this demographic. Let’s take a look at what we mean.

As the example above shows, dedicating prominent space on your career site that provides information about your internship and/or entry-level positions is vital. Make sure it answers the common questions, such as what an intern would be doing, if it’s paid, and how they’ll benefit.

Additionally, offering helpful tips for job seekers allows them to feel more confident about your company, and lets them know you’re invested in their success.

Step 2: Target universities, local colleges, and trade schools. Is there a particular school that many current employees happen to be alumni of? Are there schools in the area with strong programs that teach the concepts and skills you recruit for? If so, reach out to those schools’ career services centers and begin building relationships. As Mimi Collins of NACE notes, “Most college recruiting professionals identify the career center as their ‘base.’ These typically offer career fairs, job-posting services, on-campus recruiting, and other options for connecting with students. Plus, career center staff can provide you with intelligence about their campus—its culture and traditions, specifics about their students’ attitudes and behaviors, and such—which you can use to tailor your strategy. Career center staff also can help you develop relationships with other key campus contacts, including faculty and administrators. “

Step 3: Create and maintain a presence on campus. Once you’ve reached out to career services, a successful college recruiting strategy is solidified by having an ever-present footprint on campus. With your company on campus, students can become more familiar and comfortable with your brand, and learn of new potential employment opportunities sooner than they would have if you were not on campus. Below are a few tactics that will help integrate your company among the student population.

  • Partner with relevant groups, clubs, and societies. Most schools have a club for each department. Bigger schools have a club for each major. For example, do you hire engineers? Business majors? Communications and media majors? Guaranteed, there are active clubs meeting regularly on campus for these interests. Fortunately for you, the employer, the members of these clubs are starved for real-world knowledge, experience, and valuable networking opportunities that will help them land an internship or job.

To begin fostering relationships, approach each club with what you can offer. Some ideas can include general guidance, research projects, sponsorship opportunities, internships, etc. This will allow your company to cultivate relationships with the top officers and other leaders within the student organization and begin setting the stage to recruit them into your organization later on.

  • Get to know the professors. Partnering with professors will get you in front of potential applicants sooner and ensure valuable skills are being taught in an educational setting.  For example, when I was earning my bachelor’s degree, one particular class of mine partnered with a national newspaper for a semester.  Through this partnership, the national newspaper charged us with researching college students’ reading habits and what their potential online readership behavior would be. During the project, we surveyed hundreds of students, analyzed the results, found patterns and trends within the numbers, and presented our conclusion and proposal in front of a panel of decision makers.

Graduates will then be better equipped to apply those skills at a potential internship or entry-level job at your company.

  • Coordinate on-campus interviewing. Most schools have a formal career services center that connects students with internships and full-time opportunities. Many students may not have the ability to travel to interviews. Be sure to ask the schools’ career service center to set up a time and place when you can visit the campus and interview students.
  • Plan valuable information sessions and invite students to attend. Having information sessions on campus offers students and organizations more face-time with companies that are hiring, usually in a more informal and intimate setting. Additionally, seeing specific companies come to campus to offer valuable information and answer questions provides networking opportunities, builds brand awareness, and cultivates good-will. Even further, it offers students who may have little to no experience with interviews a chance to learn the ins and outs of the process, which will refine their skills and allow their personality to shine through. Common topics for information sessions include:
    • Overviews of working for your company (e.g. A Day in the Life as an Intern)
    • Resume tips
    • Cover Letter tips
    • Interview Do’s and Don’ts/Mock Interviews
    • How to Dress for the Interview
    • Etc.

By leveraging any or a combination of all of these strategies, recruiters can start building relationships, determine who is engaged with their brand, and identify who might be a good fit BEFORE the career fair. These strategies are only the beginning of a well-developed talent pipeline of entry-level college recruits.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will discuss strategies and tactics of what to do during the career fair, including how to offer a valuable and meaningful experience to students while continuing to extend your employment brand.