The Basics of College Recruiting

Yesterday we looked into how college degrees might be the new high school diploma when it comes to hiring. Today we’ll look at some basics of recruiting college students.

To help us understand today’s college students and how to run successful programs to recruit them, we interviewed expert Tom Borgerding on a recent HR Works podcast.
Borgerding is CEO and president of Campus Media Group. He works with a large number of notable companies such as AT&T, Bon Ton Stores, BP, Citi, Deutsche Bank, GRE, Great Clips, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Shell Oil.
Here’s what he suggested to our HRDA interviewer.
HRDA: Let’s start by talking a little about today’s college students, Millennials, or I guess, today’s students might be Gen Z students. What are they looking for? What attracts them?
TB: Here are a few general market statistics:

  • Six in 10 jobs require 2+ years of college education.
  • We expect a shortage of 14 million college-educated workers by 2020.
  • Forty-seven percent of the workforce is under 34 years old today, and the average age of an employee by 2020 is expected to be 31.
  • The average term of employment is under 3 years (and most Millennials are closer to 2 years).

HRDA: What attracts Millennials?
TB: I find them interested in:

  • Growth
  • Mentoring
  • Friends
  • Benefits/pay

And, important for recruiters, employers they have heard of will attract them first.
HRDA: How do you go about building awareness of your organization on campus?
TB: Here are two key factors:

  1. FaceTime with people.
  2. Use digital, especially mobile, means.

Plus, I recommend that recruiters:

  • Build relationships with professors; they are influencers of the students. They also know which students are leaders. Be sure you make it a two-way relationship—how can you help them? Don’t just ask “which kids are good for us to hire?”
  • Connect with the placement officials and career centers. Again, ask them how you can help, for example, by mentoring, reviewing résumés, or holding info sessions). Ask them who else you should speak with.
  • Build direct relationships with student groups, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), diversity, disability, veterans affairs, and similar organizations); deans; and professors.
  • Build brand awareness with preevent marketing, Facebook, posters, outreach to people you know, and mobile.
  • Keep up a regular program of branding, for example, with digital ads and contextually meaningful advertising.

HRDA: What media should you use? Do you have a preference for print, or e-mail, or website, or events, or campus visits—what do you recommend?
TB: Consider all of the following:

  • Experiential (face-to-face) brand experience:
    • Do not just be a talking head; stand out!
    • Large events where the event is very controlled.
    • Small experiences, like info sessions, speaking in classes, mentoring.
  • Mobile—Be where students are:
    • Facebook, Reddit, Twitter
    • Mobile apps:
      • Ads in apps; or
      • Your own app for engagement and communication.
    • Digital: contextual ads, interests, social.
    • Inbound: Be a resource for them (develop content that will be where they are doing searches, that is, search engine optimization (SEO)-type strategy). These could be:
      • Checklists,
      • Infographics,
      • White paper-like resources,
      • Blogs,
      • Vlogs, and
      • Podcasts.

Topics you might cover include:

  • How to be a great employee.
  • Great questions to ask when interviewing.
  • What it’s like to work at your company.
  • How to transition from college to the “real world.”
  • Your Youtube channel.
  • Your website should:
    • Be mobile friendly.
    • Include a call to action:
      • Enable viewer to sign up for a newsletter.
      • Provide an application.
      • Subscribe to the Youtube channel.
      • Follow us.
      • Have sign-up to attend an event.
      • And much more.

HRDA: You’ve talked about building a relationship—how early in a student’s college career would you want to start working on that?
TB: The trend is to start this earlier than in the past. In some highly competitive industries, recruiters are starting in high school.