Campus recruitment has evolved to include both in-person and digital channels to engage Generation Z students.
Organizations should define their target audience for campus recruitment to identify the right candidates based on skills, majors, locations, and other factors.
Authenticity is crucial in recruitment content. Create messaging that aligns with students' values and career goals, considering factors like stability, benefits, and social justice.
Back-to-school season is a popular time for organizations to begin making concrete campus recruitment plans. As the high-volume hiring season kicks in, a fresh class of college graduates will be ready to enter the workforce. Also, a new group of college students will be joining the workforce, since many students need those high-volume hiring jobs to get through college.
But before jumping in, organizations should reassess their college recruiting strategy to ensure they’re well-positioned to get their pick of top student talent.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), roughly two million students complete their bachelor’s degree each year, each eager to gain employment in their chosen field. And employers are just as eager. Demand for recent college graduates in 2023 is at its highest level in more than three years. But just as is the case with recruiting more experienced hires, there is always competition for the best talent. As a result, organizations must apply innovative recruitment tactics to engage candidates and encourage them to hit “Apply.”
To find success in campus recruitment, talent acquisition teams should explore new and creative recruitment marketing techniques to locate the best student talent, build excitement with memorable content, and ensure a positive and mutually rewarding candidate journey.
5 Winning Campus Recruitment Strategies
Campus recruitment has evolved from a strategy focused primarily on campus interactions, to one of utilizing a diverse mix of in-person and digital channels to build awareness and attract the latest generation of college students. In addition to visiting campuses, talent acquisition teams are also meeting Gen Z college students virtually where they are and speaking to them in ways that build interest and engagement.
Here are five actions organizations can take to build a campus recruitment program that reaches students and converts them into applicants.
1. Define the Target Candidate Audience
For many organizations, campus recruiting season is a time of high-volume recruiting, filled with numerous job postings and busy campus interview schedules. But given the diversity of open roles and the large number of students across campuses, it’s essential to define the target audience for those roles before the season goes into full swing. Similar to recruiting for other roles, recruiting teams should have a clear picture of what to look for in terms of candidates’ knowledge level, experience, and potential.
According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, employers named problem-solving skills the most important attribute they sought in college graduate hires. Additional factors to consider when defining the ideal campus recruit include:
The mix of technical and soft skills
College program and other coursework
Previous internship experience
Tip: Creating candidate personasis an excellent way to capture all the elements that define the ideal candidate. It puts everyone on the same page and helps to refine employer branding and candidate messaging.
2. Build Awareness Among Target Candidates
Beyond the “big name” consumer brands, Gen Z college students may not be aware of career opportunities with other organizations. Building awareness among these students will take more than posting job opportunities and visiting campus. To engage students and convert them into applicants, employers can find success using a mix of digital and other media channels to showcase their organization as a great place for new graduates. Some examples of how to do this include:
Using social media tools such as Snapchat filters to highlight career events happening in different areas
Creating fun TikToks that offer authentic and lighthearted views of company culture
Hosting on-campus giveaways
Live-streaming company events, talks, and tours on social media
Promoting stories from interns and new grad hires on company profile pages
3. Create Engaging Content
Research has found that authenticity is one of the most critical elements of a positive candidate experience for today’s college students. Students want genuine, honest interactions with potential employers, even if the only form of interaction is virtual. For this reason, it’s essential to create recruitment marketing content that is not only authentic, but able to engage students and speak to their values and career goals.
Job seekers on campus may be inundated with emails from companies, job ads, texts, and social media takeovers, but they will be most likely to engage with clear and honest messaging that speaks about the things most important to them. For example, a recent Handshake survey revealed that college-grad job seekers value job opportunities that offer stability, benefits, and high earning potential. Organizations will be more likely to get students’ attention by creating targeted messaging that speaks to those elements. Other job elements that Gen Z job seekers value include:
Diversity and inclusion
Commitment to social justice
Tip: Recognize that each generation prioritizes different values and benefits, so showcasing information that resonates with the target demographic is key.
It’s also critical to ensure recruitment messaging is tailored to the target audience. Engineering students aren’t necessarily looking for the same things in a job as new graphic design graduates. This is another reason it’s so essential to define the target audience up front. When designing job ads, videos, texts, and career site content, the messaging should align with what’s important to each target audience.
For example, as the first digital native generation, Gen Z is prone to watching videos on YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms. Employers who use video to engage job seekers will be more likely to reach students where they are.
Remember, it's not just about where the messaging appears; it's about what the company is saying and how it aligns with the aspirations and values of the potential candidates.
4. Utilize Multiple Channels to Reach Students
It’s no secret that digital-native college students rely on social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat to engage with friends, brands, and the world. And when it comes to looking for jobs, they’re also heavy LinkedIn users. In a CollegePulse survey, college students said they used LinkedIn more than any other platform to learn about companies and job opportunities.
In addition to placing jobs on LinkedIn and job boards, employers can also reach college students using other channels, for example:
Detailed employer profiles on popular student job boards, such as Handshake, WayUp, Glassdoor, and Comparably
On-campus recruiting events
In-person and virtual job fairs
Program-specific competitions and hackathons
Geotargeting ad campaigns that reach students in locations close to company recruiting centers
In a competitive job market, the content of the messaging is just as important as where it's placed. To stand out in the crowd of choices for job seekers, ensure the messaging is optimally tailored to address the unique needs and desires of the audience on the platforms and in the areas where they spend a significant amount of their time.
Tip: Omnichannel college recruitment helps employers differentiate themselves from other employers while testing different media types and tactics. To determine which media channels are most cost-effective, employers can use Recruitics’ Vision Analytics solution for AI-powered visualizations and real-time metric tracking.
5. Streamline the Job Application
No candidate wants a long and cumbersome job application process, and college students are no different. It makes little sense to invest so much time and energy into engaging and nurturing college applicants only to lose them during the application stage. Instead, make it easy for them to apply with user-friendly, short applications and tools such as easy apply.
A Fresh Strategy For Better Campus Recruitment Results
Today, campus recruitment happens as much in the cloud as on physical campuses. When done right, students will have healthy brand awareness and multiple company interactions under their belt by the time they come for their first interview. This is helpful for candidates and employers alike, as it keeps candidates well-informed and increases the chances of a great hire who is aligned with company values and goals.
As in other areas of recruitment, campus recruitment is changing to meet the needs and expectations of Gen Z graduates. As a result, organizations must evolve with those changes and be willing to try new recruitment tactics and technologies.
For help getting started, the team at Recruitics is here to help! The Recruitics team can provide strategic support and customized recruitment marketing solutions to help any organization successfully tackle the high-volume campus recruiting season.