A Guide to Attracting and Recruiting College Graduates

A Guide to Attracting and Recruiting College Graduates

Spring is not only the season of blooming flowers and sunny days but also the time for new beginnings. College graduation is an important milestone for many students, and it marks the start of their professional careers. As an employer, this is an excellent opportunity to tap into a fresh pool of talented graduates.

According to Indeed, there are many compelling reasons businesses should focus on the benefits of hiring new grads at this time of year (rather than demanding the prerequisite of hard-to-find experience) and consider a hiring strategy that includes recruiting new graduates. These reasons include everything from the high level of ambition, enthusiasm, adaptability, and agility of these new grads, to their tech-savviness, diversity, and fresh perspectives.

As such, recruiters need to ensure that their recruitment practices are up-to-date. With all of the resources available to them, graduates today are asking more questions, doing more research, and have become more discriminating with regard to the companies they’d like to work for than in years past.

This article will cover some of the best ways to tap into the talent pool of recent graduates, including tried-and-true methods coupled with strategies that are well-suited to the ever-changing recruiting landscape.

college grad recruitment


Build Brand Awareness Strategically

It’s essential to realize that building brand awareness overall is a different proposition than building brand awareness tailored for recent college graduates. This has to do with the culture and values of this group, as well as the manner in which and the extent to which this age group engages with technology.

Employer brand awareness with this age group requires the use of omnichannel approaches; successful recruitment marketing will be contingent upon recruiters’ ability to find the right media mix.

To be sure, employer branding best practices have been regularly addressed in this space, but finely focusing these efforts to attract top talent amongst recent grads requires going deeper. It will be necessary for recruiters to think of how this generation interacts with the digital platforms they frequent so that the company can meet the target audience where they are.

For college students, College Recruiter, Uloop, and WayUp are good platforms to focus on, along with social media like Instagram and TikTok. Then, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the messaging to this audience!


The Value of Campus Ambassadors and Interns

Campus ambassadors are current undergraduate students or recent graduates who work on a college campus to promote a company's products, programs, or services. Companies generally do this by hosting events, tabling, or other field marketing techniques. Campus ambassadors are a great way to connect to college campuses, and this can be done by scheduling job fairs or participating in those being sponsored by the college or third-party institutions.

It’s also important to put some thought into who should interface with campus ambassadors and students at on-campus events. Since students tend to be more receptive to people they can relate to, it is crucial to be mindful of who attends these events. Human relations personnel have their role, of course, but managers or other staff from departments that relate to the hiring campaign and trainers are also excellent choices. Including actual employees can help prospective candidates connect and build relationships directly with people alongside whom they may potentially work. This might also include engaging dynamic recent hires who have been on board for a sufficient amount of time.

recent college grad recruitment

Building an internship program can also help feed talent into the company after graduation. Employers that seek out top collegiate talent by preparing students or hiring new graduates can see an immediate and satisfying impact on business performance. The benefits of engaging interns are numerous, and include reduced recruitment and training costs, the ability to establish relationships with colleges and universities, increased company visibility, and increased productivity, to name just a few.

According to NACE Research’s 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey, employers made full-time offers to almost 65% of their interns, with 80% accepting those offers. Employees who completed an internship were more likely to be with the company at both one-year and five-year retention benchmarks. Hiring interns also helps with retention, since an intern will have learned all about the company and won’t need to be retrained.

These are just some of the reasons that it is important for companies to review their recruiting strategy and make sure it works for today’s future employees. It is important to remember that campus outreach is about building a brand that will appeal to the talent being targeted. Student attitudes have changed over the past several years, and feelings about employment arrangements are ever-evolving.


Hiring New Graduates: Best Practices

In today's highly competitive job market, organizations looking to recruit top talent must be willing to cast a wide net. Recent graduates typically fill nearly 60% of entry-level jobs. With companies (and their competitors) chasing experienced talent, targeting recent graduates can increase an organization’s chances of recruiting great hires. Some best practices relating to the recruitment of recent college and university graduates include these areas:



Ensure marketing materials are up-to-date and effectively showcasing the company’s information. For example: If a new employee value proposition (EVP) has been created, it should be prominently featured!



Ensure that branding is featured at events so that the company can be recognized from its omnichannel efforts. Flyers, business cards, grab bags, etc. should be kept at the ready!



Ensure that the application process is smooth. In 2021, nearly 70% of job applications were completed on mobile devices, up from only 51% in 2019. It is reasonable to assume that many of these recent graduates will be applying for jobs on their phones. Companies should offer a fast and seamless experience that converts engaged job seekers into applicants rather than missed opportunities.

recruitment best practices



Use analytics to help build the graduate recruitment strategy. Previous data can help hiring professionals holistically plan for the future – if they don’t have access to this data, then they are behind the curve! Companies should make sure that their analytics dashboard is up and running, as well as optimized.



Since many of these recent graduates may still need to gain the requisite experience for certain positions, consider a skills-based hiring approach. Showcase in the employer brand/EVP that the company is looking for motivated, dedicated talent, then highlight the mentoring and/or training opportunities available to new hires once onboarded. Relaxing requirements to find candidates who can grow into the role will get them in the door, and focusing on their soft skills will help adapt them to their roles. This strategy can also help the organization clarify the skills it needs, now and in the future.


Cultivating Relationships

Keep students engaged: after a hiring event, build a talent pool of interested students, so that when they’re ready to graduate, they think of the company first. Cultivate top-of-mind awareness by consistently providing touchpoints to maintain the relationship between potential candidates (students) and the company.


Messaging and Relevance

Make sure to always:

  • Tailor recruitment practices to the audience hiring professionals are targeting.
  • Ensure that messaging is appropriate to the audience (e.g., recent graduates, diverse audiences, veterans) and to the platform (e.g., LinkedIn versus TikTok).
  • Ensure that corporate representation is diverse so all potential recruits feel welcome and free to directly address any related concerns about the industry.
  • Refrain from using dated recruiting practices for younger generations, since this has the potential to alienate them.



Since they’re fresh from the classroom, recent graduates can bring a more open-minded perspective that’s unfettered by habit, making them more likely to bring new insights and innovation to the workplace. The benefits of recruiting new graduates are substantial to organizations across all industries, and communicating the company's brand in a way that appeals to the talent hiring professionals are seeking will help the company thrive in the coming years.

If you’re looking to refine your strategies for recruiting tomorrow's talent, feel free to reach out to us!

Subscribe to newsletter


Find Out How We Can Become an Extension of Your Talent Acquisition Team