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Everything You Need to Know About University Recruiting

University recruiting is crucial for the future of your organization. Fresh talent brings new life and enthusiasm into your company that can shape the workplace in exciting ways. When you find and develop this talent, you create the leaders that will contribute to your company's success for years to come—making university recruitment an important part of shaping your company’s future. To be successful in your early talent recruiting, you need a solid plan that helps you use your time on campus wisely. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about university recruiting and how to leverage it to bring in the best talent and create a strong workforce.

University Recruiting Benefits

What Is Campus or University Recruitment?

Campus or university recruitment is the process of attracting students to fill entry-level positions, as well as internships. It combines several strategies, such as participating in career fairs, sponsoring events at a college, engaging with students in person and online, and working closely with schools to increase visibility on campus.

Benefits of University Recruiting

University recruiting is a great way to meet your hiring goals in both the long and short term. The following are some benefits of university recruiting to keep in mind as you create strategies for attracting new talent.

Creating a robust talent pipeline

Having a presence on college and university campuses will help you create a robust pipeline of talent you can tap into as needed. Whether you participate in campus recruiting events, engage with student organizations, or develop an internship program, university recruiting offers a myriad of opportunities to fill your hiring funnel with qualified talent that you have already built relationships with.

Lowering costs

It's no secret that hiring can be expensive, and if you're already reviewing your recruiting metrics, you may be looking for ways to cut costs. University recruitment is a great way to accomplish this, as it can significantly lower your cost per hire. In fact, the Education Resources Information Center reports that when recruiters bring their talent acquisition activities on campus, they on average will spend $2,114 per hire at private colleges and universities and $536 at public ones, compared to the $4,129 average they would normally spend, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Creating an attractive employer brand

All candidates want to work for an organization that treats its employees well, so creating a strong employer brand on campus will boost your recruitment efforts. And the sooner you do this, the better. In order to get students’ attention right away, you can do things like organizing an event to help them move in, while providing branded products they can use in their dorm rooms. Activities like this will leave a good impression on students that, with a continued presence on campus, can last throughout their college years and beyond. The more consistent, positive employer branding you do on campus, the more chances you have of getting students excited about the possibility of working for you after graduation.

Increasing retention

When you engage in university recruitment, you build a relationship with talent long before they start looking for entry-level jobs. This can make a huge difference in the ability to keep workers because people hired from campus tend to stay at companies for a long time if their employer invests in them and provides an inclusive workplace.

Building a strong company for the future

When you bring in employees through your early in career recruiting, you are contributing to the future of your company. Hiring workers that you have gotten to know for years through university recruitment, and then giving them to tools they need to succeed and move into leadership roles, means you are planting the seeds of success that will grow your organization. 

7 University Recruiting Trends

Just as the workplace itself, recruiting has rapidly evolved in recent years—and university recruitment is no exception. The following are seven university recruiting trends to pay attention to while working to attract early career professionals.

1. Increase in virtual recruitment

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the workplace in numerous ways, and one notable part of that change was switching to virtual recruitment to bring in talent. And that trend isn't going anywhere. Although in-person campus recruiting is going to be a priority, more and more companies are continuing a virtual touch, including virtual events, to save time and money on travel and accommodate students at schools recruiters may not normally visit. This trend opens up a wealth of opportunity to recruit students you may not have otherwise had access to, which can include those from historically-overlooked communities.

2. Less emphasis on GPA

Although looking at grade point average as a marker of a good job candidate was generally considered the norm, less emphasis is being given to GPA when evaluating students. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2021, 56.6 percent of employers were using GPA to screen candidates, down from 63.0 and 73.3 percent in 2020 and 2019 respectively. Instead, recruiters are now using differentiators like students’ major, employment experience, volunteer work, and participation in an internship to judge their potential. Similarly, employers are paying much more attention to student skill sets when evaluating candidacies, including problem solving, analytical, verbal and written communication, technology, and leadership skills.

3. More emphasis on candidate experience

Today’s candidate expects a good experience when moving through the hiring funnel, and if they don't receive it, they have no problem dropping out of the running for a job. This trend that emphasizes candidate experience means companies must ensure they’re treating potential hires well during every stage of the university recruitment process—which signals the organization will treat them well after being hired.

4. DEI prioritized

Job candidates are increasingly concerned about diversity and inclusion, especially candidates in Generation Z. In fact, a survey conducted by Glassdoor found 76 percent of job hunters consider a company’s diversity when deciding on whether or not to accept job offers. In order to appeal to college students today, you need to be actively working on your diversity recruitment plan to increase the talent from underrepresented backgrounds at your organization.

5. More attention paid to employer brand

A good employer brand is essential for attracting the talent you want. Recruiters are increasingly recognizing this and working to get the message out about what they have to offer employees. This trend means that your employer brand needs to be front and center because even if you initially meet candidates at a campus recruitment event, according to CareerArc, 61 percent of them will still look at your company’s online properties before putting in a job application. Be sure to use your careers website, social media, and communications on campus to make it clear that your organization is the best choice for young professionals.

6. Increased focus on intern recruiting

In order to save time and money, companies are putting increased emphasis on internal recruitment, thus giving existing employees more opportunities to move up the ladder within their organizations. This trend is also being applied to early career talent, so recruiters are tapping into their intern pool to fill entry-level positions. As a result, looking for the right intern is just as important as looking for the best regular, full-time hire. Equally important is utilizing interns in a way that makes them interested in working for your organization after they graduate. You can do this by giving them engaging work that boosts their skills, rather than busy work that passes their time.

7. Niche recruiting sites utilized more

Whether recruiters are looking for specific skills or candidates from specific demographics, niche web sites are being prioritized for finding the talent they want. Many students are visiting these sites to connect with potential employers that are looking specifically for what they have to offer, so it makes sense to post your jobs there. Rather than wading through a sea of applicants that come in from more general locations, niche sites can help you find exactly what you’re looking for in early career candidates. 

Building a Successful Campus Recruiting Strategy

Just as with any other type of recruiting, university recruitment needs to be approached systematically with a plan in mind. The following are some tips for building a successful campus recruiting strategy that can be the roadmap for making your efforts more successful.

Choose the right schools

Your university recruitment plan is only as good as the schools you choose to recruit from, so be sure to choose the colleges and universities that you engage with wisely. Although it may seem cost-effective to only focus on the larger schools that are considered elite institutions, this may be a shortsighted approach. Aside from the fact that your company will be competing with many others to get the attention of students at these schools, there are also smaller colleges that have the same quality talent you need. In order to create a successful campus recruiting strategy, think very carefully about the institutions you want to target, and don't limit yourself to schools that are seen as "legacy" schools.

Develop campus relationships

Cultivating strong relationships with the schools you choose will help increase your visibility, so students are aware of your company, and their interest in finding out more is piqued. To do this, work closely with career centers to organize events that will draw students to you, as well as create internship and scholarship programs that demonstrate you’re invested in nurturing early career talent.

In addition to partnering with career centers, working with student organizations can help you get in front of talent. For example, a company with a diversity recruitment plan may be looking for entry-level engineers, so it's a good idea to partner with campus chapters of organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers for additional exposure. 

Be consistent

Consistency is key in your early in career recruiting. You want to get your brand in front of students as early in their college careers as possible, and stay in front of them. From day one, make your brand known and offer students something of value that will help them remember you, while showing that you care about their success. Regularly hosting career events, creating internships and scholarship programs, and offering seminars that provide valuable information about your industry are ways to create a buzz that makes students interested in applying for jobs at your organization.

Actively build a talent pipeline

Connecting with students in meaningful ways throughout their college careers can help you slowly and surely build a pipeline of talent that is aware of your employer brand. When you participate in career fairs, be sure to engage with students, collect contact information, and stay in touch on a regular basis so they remember you. By providing useful industry information to a mailing list, you not only remain top of students’ mind, you show that you're interested in their success.

Also, if you have an internship program, be sure to teach students the skills they need to be successful in their careers, while giving them a glimpse of what it's like to work at your organization. The better the experience during an internship, the more likely students are to accept a full-time position later on.

Create an early career website

Since students are likely to peruse your website before applying for a position, it makes sense to create a page dedicated to early career talent. Young employees have different needs than their seasoned counterparts, so you want to emphasize what you have to offer those just starting out in your field, and how you’re developing entry-level talent and providing career paths for them.

University recruiting can be time-consuming, but it's worth the effort. Early talent recruiting is an excellent way to ensure you have a pipeline full of candidates interested in working for your company when entry-level positions open. By creating relationships with this talent early, you’re more likely to have a high offer acceptance rate, as well as a healthy retention rate.

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