Just as students share anticipation and dread for packing up and heading back to school, preparing for campus recruiting season can be both a time of excitement — and a logistical nightmare.
Wave after wave of new graduates (the future of your company) are getting ready to enter the labor market simultaneously, and while that means that opportunity abounds for proactive recruiters, a campus recruiting strategy that’s too broad and lacking in focus can leave you empty-handed.
One of the most important parts of a strategic approach is creating a target school list, a task that can be as nerve-wracking as an upcoming final. But take a deep breath; here’s our cheat sheet for making sure you’re getting started the right way:
Go Beyond the Pedigree
As tuition costs continue to rise and student debt continues to be a persistent problem impacting new grads, many qualified students who may be able to attend a top-tier school may opt to attend in-state schools or other reputable institutions that offer more competitive tuition rates.
Income levels also come into play here. According to a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic research, more than 40 percent of high-achieving students from low-income families don’t apply to selective schools, which tend to have higher tuition rates.
We’re not saying ditch the Ivy Leagues altogether — they have their prestige for a reason. But as the economy continues to shift, it’s important to broaden your horizons and target other schools to make sure you’re accessing the right talent for your organization’s needs.
Identify Crucial Skills
When assessing different schools, first determine the types of skills you’re looking for in optimal hires.
Consider Silicon Valley, for example. According to a recent study by HiringSolved, Ivy League universities didn’t crack the top 10 list when it came to recruiting in Silicon Valley last year. Instead, big tech firms favored institutions like Berkeley, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon, which offer competitive programs in STEM-related fields.
Whether it be sales, tech, healthcare, or beyond, it’s important to identify which schools offer the best programs that match your target hires. When evaluating schools, consider accreditations, academic programs, and post-grad placement that could give you better insight into the types of students at particular institutions. If you’re looking to get started, U.S. News and World Report offers comprehensive rankings of the best academic programs for you to compare when you’re hammering out your list.
Consider the Past
As the old saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When determining your list of this season’s target schools, consider schools you have worked with in the past. Which schools do you already have strong relationships with? Did some schools yield better hires than others? Utilizing connections you already have will help you jumpstart your process and get your pipeline in action early.
The Alumni Factor
Another good approach to determining your target schools is to consider your existing employees. Your employees can be great brand ambassadors when attracting potential candidates. While it shouldn’t be the only factor that determines which schools you target, make sure you’re reaching out to upper management to see which school they may prefer to see on your list.
Expand Your Reach
Okay, now it’s time to address the elephant in the room. What if the schools you’ve determined would be a good fit for your campus recruiting season are out of your reach? Traveling across the country to put on a career fair or visiting a number of different schools throughout the season can be costly. Luckily, we live in the digital age, and doing outreach is easier than ever.
Consider these steps:
- Virtual Career Fairs: Virtual career fairs are a great way to attract candidates from wherever they may be stationed, expanding your reach to areas you may not typically be able to travel.
- Social Media: With Facebook Live and Twitter chat, recruiters can connect with potential job candidates and answer their questions in real-time.
- Digital Interviewing: Digital interviewing allows jobseekers to take their screening interviews on their own time, from wherever they feel most comfortable — cutting down on the need to travel. It also lets recruiters view and share interviews with the rest of the hiring team, allowing recruiters to balance their hiring load and not worry about the tedious game of phone tag associated with scheduling interviews en masse.
If you start choosing schools based on brand value alone, you pick the brands you know. Unfortunately, they’re also the brands everyone else knows, so you’re now even worse off chasing fewer students against more competitors. If you’re considering expanding your reach, make sure you’re using your resources effectively to choose the right schools and develop an effective strategy to reach more top talent without hurting your bottom line.