How to Create a Campus Recruiting Strategy

Did you know that by 2025, Gen Z will make up 25% of the workforce? As the talent pool gets increasingly younger and more technologically advanced, employers are adapting their recruiting strategies to attract the right candidates. 

One of the most effective strategies for hiring young talent is to recruit directly from the source: college campuses. 

A campus recruiting strategy is an approach to attract, engage, and hire talented students directly from universities. It entails both in-person and online outreach to identify students early in their academic careers who might be a good fit for a business. Campus recruiting can be as simple as spreading the word about your business, or as serious as offering internships or entry-level positions to top students. 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 14.7% more new college graduates from the class of 2023 compared to the class of 2022. CareerPlug wants to make hiring easier, so we’ve laid out some guidelines on creating an effective campus recruiting strategy to stay ahead of the competition. 

Build relationships with campus resources 

One simple but effective way to recruit young talent is to build relationships with professors or department heads from specific schools you have in mind. 

No one interacts with a school’s top students more than the professors themselves! Connecting with professors or department heads – whether that be via personal connections, alumni, or LinkedIn – is a great way to get direct referrals. These leaders can give detailed information on exceptional students who might be a good fit for your business. 

Next, be sure to get involved with a college or university’s Career Services office. This department exists on campuses to help students explore career opportunities and make connections with potential employers. Who better to connect with than those guiding students into their future? 

Career Services is an intermediary between a recruiter and students. Career fairs, workshops, and networking events organized by Career Services offer valuable opportunities for employers to engage with students and showcase their company. 

Quick tip: ask Career Services to post your job openings and company information on their social media feeds. Most career centers will have some form of social media to keep students updated about opportunities. Utilizing that resource not only spreads awareness, but builds you a positive company reputation among the student community. 

Have a social media presence 

We know we’re not shocking you by saying that Gen Z spends a lot of their time on social media. So as an employer, if you want to attract Gen Z students, you should be active on social media platforms. Many traditional businesses might see this as an unnecessary step, but we assure you: if a student is interested in your company, they will be looking up your social media. 

Social media is a great tool for representing your employer brand. By providing an authentic glimpse into your company’s culture, students can gain genuine interest in your business. If they like what they see, students will be more motivated to connect with you. 

Even at CareerPlug, a software company, we have found ways to stay active on our LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We post for national holidays, announce upcoming events, share employee spotlights to showcase the real faces behind our talented team, and more! 

By building our company’s brand through social media, viewers can grasp our values and feel more connected to us. 

How to post on social media to attract Gen Z

So…how exactly can you use social media to attract young talent? 

First, the content you post on your business’s social media accounts should be attractive, clean, and short posts. A Gen Z student scrolls through hundreds of posts a day. If your photos or videos are visually appealing and to-the-point, viewers are more likely to read, share, and explore your other posts. 

Next, remember to utilize what you already have! For example, you could:

  • Post about past interns who have turned into full-time employees to showcase opportunities for growth. 
  • Share positive testimonials from employees to inspire potential candidates. 
  • Post the real faces behind your company to be personable. 
  • You might have an upcoming work event – snap a photo to capture a positive moment. Show off what it’s like to work for your company!

Remember, a good college recruitment strategy is not solely about pitching job opportunities to a student, but spreading awareness. Show students that you are a great place to work so they want to apply. 

In-person job fairs 

When you think of campus recruiting, you probably picture a traditional in-person job fair – booths, pamphlets, and in-person networking. This used to be the most popular form of campus recruitment. But after the Covid-19 pandemic, job fairs shifted to online events instead. Connecting face-to-face with students is obviously ideal, but in-person recruitment can get expensive and limiting.

A dynamic recruiting team will implement both in-person and virtual job fairs. However, depending on your company’s needs and resources, virtual job fairs have the capacity to replace in-person ones – especially with Gen Z. 

Virtual job fairs 

Virtual job fairs can be more effective simply because they reach a much broader audience – even on a global scale! By connecting online, your company can reach students who do not live on campus or are too busy to attend in-person events. 

Technology also makes it much easier for Gen Z students to register and attend. Let’s be real – you’ll likely get a higher attendance rate if students can join from the comfort of their computer screens. Even if your job opportunities aren’t remote, your recruiting process can be!

And the cherry on top of the virtual process…it saves you money by coordinating everything online! 

Know what your talent pool wants 

Now that you know where to find your college talent, you’ll need to market your opportunities in a way that entices them to apply to your open roles. So how can you attract more Gen Z applicants? 

Be authentic

Gen Z can often struggle in managing the expectations of an increasingly digital world while also appreciating the value of face-to-face experiences. Because of this, they tend to value authenticity and personal relationships. 

Whether you’re talking to students directly or showcasing your business on social media, it’s important to be honest about what it’s like to work for you. The candidates who value the same things you do are the candidates you want!

Imagine a scenario where a new hire discovers that a company misrepresented itself during the hiring process – this misunderstanding can lead to disappointment and employee turnover. Recent grads, full of ambition, want workplaces that align with their values and offer growth opportunities. 

Try listing your company core values on your careers page and incorporate those values in your student networking. Remember that you want to show you are a great place to work! 

Commit to diversity

Social awareness is a major defining characteristic of Gen Z, which is important to keep in mind when showcasing your business and recruiting candidates. 

If possible, utilize a diverse recruiting team so students can see and talk to a range of people – and to show that you are a diverse workplace. In a recent TalentLMS survey, 77% of surveyed Gen-Zers found it important to work for a company that cares about diversity, equity and inclusion. Representation matters to Gen Z!  Also be sure to exclude any racial, cultural, or gender-biased language from job descriptions. 

Next, think about what you actually consider to be criteria for “top candidates.” In the past five years, the percentage of employers screening candidates by GPA has been cut in half. The pandemic also caused many students to take gap years. The moral of the story: be flexible and open to who you recruit. Be sure to hire for growth potential, instead of who simply looks best on paper. 

Hire for careers, not just jobs

College students are eager to start their careers, so it’s important to get them excited about the long-term opportunities you have to offer. That’s why we like to say: hire for careers, not just jobs. This approach can work for any kind of role – even part-time positions.

Imagine that you’re a retail store manager trying to recruit part-time sales associates. If you’re simply looking for someone with a pulse to stand at the cash register and ring up customers, college students and recent grads will quickly realize there’s no future there and be less likely to commit for the long-term. 

But if you’re looking for someone to start out as part-time with the hopes of developing them into a more substantial role, you’ll begin to attract the right candidates who will want to stay. Show them the path to growth at your company and how they can contribute. Are there other employee success stories you can point to in your business, like a restaurant server who worked her way up to a manager role? Your best young candidates will want to see that!

College students and recent grads want careers, not just jobs. It’s up to you to prove that you’re just as invested in their growth as they are. 

Communicate often – and via text 

College students are just beginning their careers and sometimes it’s best as an employer to err on the side of over-communicating with them. They’re figuring a lot of things out for the first time! 

Reach out to them immediately after applying and stay in touch with them throughout the hiring process to keep them aware of what they can expect next. One easy way to do this is with text recruiting.

Text recruiting is a great way to keep students engaged throughout your hiring process. Obviously, it’s not ideal for busy hiring managers to spend all day texting college recruits, so luckily there’s technology to automate it! For example, CareerPlug’s applicant tracking system comes with Autopilot, an automated interview scheduling assistant that automatically texts interview invites and reminders to candidates for you.

To Sum it Up 

A good campus recruiting strategy requires you to stay engaged with campus life, understand what this talent pool wants, and emphasize the growth opportunities you can offer. Remember to be authentic and create meaningful connections with all students. As a generation that is technology-driven, Gen Z is open to new digital networking methods like virtual job fairs and text recruiting. Taking those extra steps to prioritize communication and showcasing your employer brand on social media will go a long way in gaining students’ trust and motivating them to apply. 

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