College recruiting season is here: 5 tips for success

As the spring college recruiting season approaches, corporate recruiters are putting plans in place to attract top talent. One of the challenges they face is that the experience of today’s college students has changed over the past few years. Potential recruits now tend to be more skeptical about potential employers after witnessing how some employees fared during the pandemic and how companies are responding to the potential economic downturn.

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Students are asking more questions and doing more research, which is a positive development. They tend to be more focused on benefits now, particularly wellness programs. As such, it’s essential for recruiters to review their recruiting strategy and make sure it works for today’s future employees. Here are five tips that can help HR leaders revamp your organization’s approach to college recruiting and adapt to the needs of the up-and-coming workforce:

1. Be intentional about selecting events and planning your schedule: The volume of events held at campuses across the country makes it impossible for one company to attend all of them. As you choose your events, weigh factors like the density of target populations at schools under consideration, including specific majors and programs. First-destination surveys can help you determine which schools historically have a student population likely to be interested in the roles you have to offer, cities you operate in and salary expectations that align with your compensation strategy for new employees.

2. Take the right people to campus: Many companies seem to struggle with choosing the ideal representation for the visit. If you tap the vice president of sales or a director-level executive, that can be impressive for students and gain recognition for your company. But students tend to be more receptive to people who they’re able to relate to, such as a graduate of their institution who joined the workforce in the last year or two. A more junior-level employee can give students insight into what the transition from college to work is like and how their lives will change. Recognize that students know recruiters are there to sell the company as an employer, so they may find frontline employees more credible.

See also: What HR can do to build Gen Z-approved DEI programs

3. Proactively address concerns individuals or groups may have about your industry: It’s also essential to make sure your corporate representation is diverse so all potential recruits feel welcome and to address any related concerns about your industry directly. Employee resource groups can be a great asset to help you overcome challenges on this issue. For example, the logistics industry is traditionally male-dominated, so at Arrive Logistics, we address those concerns head-on during campus recruiting events, highlighting women in top leadership roles and conducting presentations on how women can succeed.

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4. Personalize the recruiting process: It’s important for your recruiting strategy to be mutually beneficial for your company and the school. One of the best ways to do that is by working closely with on-campus student organizations to collaboratively plan events. Depending on the type of positions you’re recruiting for, there will likely be student organizations and fraternities or sororities that can provide programming advice and insight into what their members are seeking as they participate in recruiting fairs. It’s also a good idea to be creative and plan fun activities to build your brand on campus. One of our recruiters is a yoga instructor who conducted a wellness seminar yoga class for students to help alleviate stress during job-hunting season. We also sponsored a networking event that was staffed by local organizations, adding fun and familiarity to reduce anxiety.

5. Keep students engaged: Today’s recruiting market is highly competitive. Students you’ve successfully recruited will still receive outreach from other companies, especially if they have hard-to-find skills. For that reason, it’s critical to keep them engaged after they’ve signed an offer letter. Reaching out with onboarding tasks to complete can build excitement about your company and make what may seem like an abstract offer feel more real. Distributing company swag, sending information about the office the student will soon be joining or tips to help them find housing in a new city can also keep them focused on the next phase of their lives. The idea is to consistently provide touchpoints to maintain the relationship between the new recruit and the company.

As you plan your spring recruiting drive this year, keep in mind that campus outreach is about building a brand that will appeal to the talent you’re targeting. Student attitudes have changed over the past several years, and feelings about employment arrangements like remote work are still in flux. After finishing their high school and early college years remotely, many students are now more in favor of an in-person or hybrid arrangement, so it’s important to keep up with changing work style preferences.

That said, student preferences for brands that reflect their personal values and demonstrate concern for employees have proved more durable. As you roll out your 2023 spring recruiting strategy, keep these five tips in mind so you’ll be prepared to communicate your brand in a way that appeals to the talent your company will need to thrive in the coming years.

Learn how leading companies are targeting Gen Z workers with new benefits strategies at the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, May 3-5 in Las Vegas. Click here to register.

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