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Break the Student Barrier: 8 Lessons Learned

Jeanette Maister November 20, 2019

We’re recruiting in a proactive, ethically-minded climate, where initiatives like diversity, inclusion, and belonging take precedence over merely filling reqs. At the same time, talent acquisition teams are already thinking about the next round of student recruiting and what they can do to hire the best new talent. With graduation time almost upon us, this is the perfect moment to pause and reflect, before moving forward. Leveraging Oleeo’s recent report with Universum, here’s what we learned from the last campus recruiting season:

1. Understand the Audience

This might sound like a no-brainer but today’s college students represent Gen Z, an entirely new class of candidates. Their life experiences, career goals, and employment asks differ from their predecessors. Factor in D&I and it’s clear that we need to shift our approach. For instance, two-thirds of students report that after graduation they want to work for an international or privately-owned national business. Good news for those types of companies, but further complicating matters for startups and government entities.

2. The Art of Attraction

Likewise, to attract students, we need to know what resonates. In conducting research, Oleeo and Universum surveyed students to identify what they were looking for from potential employers. The overall findings ranked supportive management, earnings potential, a dynamic work environment and career advancement high on the list. However, in diverse subsets, the attributes differ. LGBT students prefer ethical standards, a dynamic work environment, job security, purpose and respect above all else, while people with disabilities reorder these, swapping training and development in place of work environment. Veterans offer yet another take, interested in supportive leadership and leadership opportunities.

3. Be Goal-Oriented –

Seeing the future laid out before them, students also react to messaging that relates to career goals. Here, work-life balance comes first, followed by job security, leadership opportunities, challenging work, and purpose-driven work. Weaving these ideas into college recruiting materials is a must, as a way of illustrating what an organization has to offer and creating competitive advantage. It might be tough to entice fresh-faced students with the idea of 401(k) and retirement savings, but a generous PTO policy and the option to work remote could do the trick.

4. Cover the Bases

And while those doing the recruiting likely remember life before the Internet, today’s students do not. So it’s no surprise that employer career and career services websites are the number one way they find opportunities. Even so, we can’t discount the other sources that students look to – on-campus events and career fairs; referrals; diversity groups and forums; and offline marketing efforts. Each should be taken into consideration and worked into the overall campus recruiting strategy, with a particular emphasis online and at events.  

5. Outreach Effectively

Similarly, though “top of funnel” doesn’t mean much to a college student, they do foresee a logical order of recruiting operations. To account for expectations, companies should take a multi-tiered approach to communication, moving from awareness down to the application (more on that in a minute). Within this talent pool, awareness means advertising and social media, while consideration includes the career services websites and job fairs mentioned above. Down the funnel, we see the need for reinforced on-campus presence as well as dedicated employer websites.

6. Ease of Application

One of the more interesting tidbits to come out of the Oleeo-Universum study, and one that bears repeating, is that 40 percent of the job applications analyzed went incomplete. That’s a big red flag for recruiters. One that equates to millions of new hires dropping off early in the process – to the detriment of potential employers. To avoid this, we need to centralize the process, shorten up the application and make it easy to apply from anywhere and at any time.

7. Improve the Infrastructure

Of course, making any of this happen without the right technology in place seems nearly impossible in 2019. That might mean upgrading an existing ATS or finding the right event management solution to facilitate career fairs. Either way, we’re working in a data-driven world that all but requires deep insights and analytics, allowing recruiters to update and improve outcomes continually. Something that will grow in importance as increased numbers of Gen Z students enter the job market.

8. Walk the Walk

Last, but certainly not least, we need to follow through and make good on our commitment to college recruiting. Even after drop off, there are still those students who do apply, in hopes of getting hired. And though the numbers don’t always match up, we should strive to be thoughtful and consistent. That means thinking through the messages we send, ensuring diversity appears throughout our efforts (#NoMoreManels!) and remaining open, honest and forthcoming in our interactions on and off campus.

More details on this article can be found on Recruiting Daily.