Fresh talent provides your organization with new perspectives and easier succession planning – along with filling crucial roles.
Many roles are going to be unfilled in the coming years due to the global skills shortage, such as the massive projected nursing gap of 2.1 million roles. There are also many upcoming open roles due to opportunities from the rise of AI.
Campus recruitment is the talent acquisition strategy that organizations need to attract the newest work generation and fill in-demand roles.
Hiring talent through universities has always been a great way to find candidates for entry-level positions, but it’s a tactic that’s more important now than ever due to a massive skills shortage.
Campus recruiting is also hyper-relevant because it helps you secure Gen Z candidates, who are projected to be the most well-educated and diverse generation yet.
This article discusses campus recruitment and lists seven best practices to achieve a successful hiring initiative, including showing off your company culture and using skills tests to reduce bias.
Campus recruitment is when representatives of a company travel to a college campus to hire soon-to-be-grads as new talent. This process includes meeting students, collecting resumes and applications, and teaching potential candidates about the organization.
Although, not all university recruiting is done in person. Many campus recruitment programs have a digital aspect, being either partially or even completely virtual.
These digital university recruitment programs are known as “off-campus recruitment,” and the traditional university recruitment described earlier is known as “on-campus recruitment.”
Here’s a quick comparison:
On campus recruiting
Off campus recruiting
When a company has a physical presence on a college campus
When a company has a virtual presence among students without traveling to the campus
Hosting or attending campus events like career fairs and project fairs to scope out new talent
Conducting on-campus interviews
Posting jobs on campus job boards
Hosting or attending virtual job fairs
Contacting online college career centers
Off-campus recruitment, also called virtual campus recruitment, gained popularity during the 2020 pandemic and is still being used today.
Check out our full blog on talent acquisition trends to learn in-depth about these trends and more.
A campus recruiter is a recruitment specialist that works for your company and helps seek out and engage college talent.
These recruiters help strategize, organize events, and interview likely student candidates.
Here are a few responsibilities of a campus recruiter:
Develops communication strategies
Reaches out to college clubs and career centers
Plans and attends on- and off-campus recruiting events
Posts jobs on college job boards
Communicates with potential candidates from colleges
Interviews college candidates
College recruiting is one of the oldest methods of recruitment, but it has particular importance in the modern era.
The talent shortage is weighing heavily on hiring managers as they work to fill open roles, and colleges are a great source of fresh, well-educated, and eager-to-work talent.
It’s also worth noting that Gen Z is projected to be the most well-educated generation yet. This means a massive amount of Gen Z candidates are in university.
Here are the top reasons that campus recruitment is a valuable strategy:
A huge part of your talent pool is in college: Gen Z is projected to be one of the most educated generations, meaning that most candidates entering the workforce will be recent college graduates. This generation was found to be more likely to be enrolled in college than other generations.
The global talent shortage makes fresh talent a must: A skills shortage means you need access to great candidates now more than ever. University recruiting opens your talent pool to eager recent graduates ready to enter the workforce.
It’s a chance to make your organization known to a new generation: University recruitment is an opportunity to put your brand out there and make yourself known to the next generation. Even if some candidates aren’t currently interested, they’ll know about you through recruitment marketing.
University recruitment is a crucial strategy for your company, but it also holds importance for the candidates.
A campus recruitment program gives students access to great opportunities straight out of college.
Every college student would like to start their professional life immediately upon exiting college, but few are so lucky. Campus recruitment enables them to vet companies, choose one that suits their values and needs, and get right to building their career.
A campus recruiting strategy accomplishes more than just filling seats.
Optimizing and conducting a solid campus recruitment program helps you boost diversity, improve succession planning, and even boost university relationships for future hiring efforts.
Here are our top four advantages to campus recruitment.
Research from Yello found that the use of campus recruiting technology boosts certain crucial HR metrics.
Campus recruitment technology is a category of hiring tools that help recruiters execute university recruiting efforts and includes software that engages students, sources candidates, and aids in communication.
This study found that campus recruitment software increases retention, engagement, and productivity in eventual hires.
A real-life example of a campus recruiting strategy boosting retention is TD Business Banking. From the 600 students this company recruited from college campuses, it saw a retention rate of 98.6%.
It isn’t a surprise to see an increase in engagement and retention. These young talents had the opportunity to get a job straight from college instead of spending months looking for jobs, which can be disheartening and draining.
The benefits of diversity are becoming more well-known as countless companies are promoting diversity hiring initiatives.
How does campus recruitment help hire diverse candidates?
Gen Z has been found to be the most ethnically diverse generation, so university recruiting puts you in a great spot to find diverse individuals.
This is also a natural way to increase diversity, rather than relying solely on DE&I target efforts, which can sometimes be problematic in approach and execution.
To read about this subject in-depth, check out our blog on DE&I target problems.
Campus recruitment strengthens the relationship between your company and universities.
The more campus recruiting your company does, particularly with a focused handful of universities, the better relationship you’ll build with the school.
This relationship leads to better future hiring, streamlining recruitment efforts, such as easy on campus recruiting, and being the first to hear about likely candidates from college career centers.
A strong relationship with universities also aids in research and development.
Many businesses pair with colleges to conduct research projects, such as the collaboration between Boston University and Red Hat, an open-source software company, to advance research and education on open-source and emerging technologies.
Getting a steady source of fresh talent helps your company’s succession planning efforts.
Succession planning is all about ensuring you have a healthy pipeline of qualified candidates ready to step into vacated roles, and campus recruitment ensures you have a great source to fill that talent pipeline.
For example, say you have a data entry technician who’s ready to advance to the next step in their career path to become a data entry operator. You can use university recruiting to hire an intern now, so your team is ready for the switch.
To read more on the subject, check out our succession planning guide.
A good campus recruitment strategy requires keen tactics to acquire the best talent out there, such as leveraging off and on campus recruiting or using skills tests to find the best candidates.
Here are our seven best practices so you can build that strategy and optimize your recruiting efforts.
Target your campus recruitment efforts to your audience
A generic recruitment strategy might not work on a campus, so have one designed to engage and attract college students
Show off your company culture
Healthy culture and values matter to Gen Z, so display it for recruitment marketing
Find high-quality candidates by using skills tests to reduce bias
Skills tests are best for finding real skills without relying on work experience and high GPAs
Try both off campus and on campus recruiting
Leveraging both in-person and virtual campus recruiting opens your talent pool to find more candidates
Monitor and manage campus recruitment metrics
HR metrics like time-to-hire and which universities are most likely to source great hires are essential to track and measure
Focus on a handful of schools
It’s best to narrow in on a few colleges that align with your values and your stance on diversity
Maintain strong and consistent communication
Keeping in touch with candidates at every point in the recruitment process is important for a positive candidate experience
Any recruitment initiative is hampered when it doesn’t reach the right candidates, and campus recruitment is no different.
It’s vital to know your audience and target your recruitment accordingly. You want students to be aware of your recruitment program and ready to attend – you want a program that motivates Gen Z.
Here are a few tips to target your campus recruitment to college candidates:
Use social media to engage with candidates and promote your event
Show off your culture and values (more on that in the next section)
Communicate your ethics and inclusivity
Adopt skills-based practices and shout it from the rooftops
A modern, skills-focused hiring initiative is a great way to target the newest work generation. Gen Z has a strong focus on ethics and equality, two things that are ever-present in skills-based hiring.
Plus, research has shown that 51% of Gen Z’ers prefer learning hands-on versus seeing or listening. This makes them excellent candidates for on-the-job learning, another fundamental aspect of skills-based practices.
For more information, read our guide on hiring Gen Z.
Gen Z appreciates good company culture, values, and meaningful work, so it pays to wear your company culture on your sleeve.
A survey from Monster found that 83% of Gen Z’ers say that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. A separate study found that 80% of Gen Z workers are considering leaving their job to find work that aligns with their values.[7,8]
This means that it’s crucial to display your company culture and your commitment to diversity. Show students your employer branding and let them know what it’s like to work for your company.
It’s especially important to advertise your commitment to diversity after Affirmative Action was revoked in 2023. Candidates want and need to know where you stand on diversity issues and diverse recruiting.
Too many university recruitment strategies set unrealistic expectations and lofty requirements. Strict criteria for unnecessary “must-haves” only narrow your talent pool.
Campus recruiting shouldn’t focus on experience on resumes or high GPA requirements. Few college candidates have relevant work experience – it’s a fallacy to expect any from entry-level employees in the first place.
In addition, a high GPA doesn’t necessarily equate to capability. Academic success doesn’t equal competency, and vice versa.
You can stop asking for unnecessary “requirements” by using skills tests to evaluate candidates on their real skills.
Using skills tests enables campus recruiters to zero in on the necessary skills quickly and objectively. There are hundreds of skills tests available, from situational judgment tests to software proficiency tests like our Wireshark test.
This means discovering talent that was hidden by traditional hiring methods while at the same time finding the candidate that’s best for the role.
For more insights, read our blog on how the focus on skills is driving the degree reset.
If you’re having trouble choosing in-person or virtual campus recruitment – don’t. Try both.
Leveraging both in-person and virtual campus recruitment improves your outreach and finds more candidates.
Increasingly more companies and campuses are promoting in-person events now that many pandemic restrictions have been lifted, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be taking advantage of virtual campus recruitment.
Nearly every university in this survey said they plan to use a hybrid form of campus recruitment, meaning both in-person and virtual.
On campus recruiting is a tried-and-true technique, but here are a few of our digital campus recruiting tips to help you get started:
Build a talent pool in advance by reaching out to the college career center. This is a form of proactive recruitment.
Get connected with the university's career services and post jobs on their career site.
Try hosting a virtual job fair or information session
Extending your university recruitment strategies online is a great way to increase job applicants because your program can include disabled students and off-campus students who are attending college remotely.
Every good recruitment effort should be monitored so you know what works and what doesn’t. This is a crucial part of data driven recruitment.
In addition to their similarities, it’s important to consider that a corporate university recruiting strategy has different metrics than a standard hiring initiative.
Here are a few metrics we recommend keeping a close eye on:
Number of applicants
Which universities are the most successful in sourcing hires
Number of passive candidates
Scheduled interviews to offers made ratio
Offers made to offers accepted ratio
Number of new candidates in your college talent community
All of these talent acquisition analytics metrics offer valuable insights into the process, which inform your future campus recruitment efforts.
For example, measuring and monitoring which universities are most successful in sourcing hires helps your campus recruiter focus on those colleges in the future.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just pouring all your effort into one university or posting a job ad on every single college website.
Select a handful of schools and focus on them. Don’t spread yourself too thin, but don’t focus too hard on a single school if it isn’t working out.
Take some time to research the colleges. Try to find schools that align well with your company’s values and practices.
It’s also crucial to find a college with a similar outlook on diversity. After Affirmative Action was revoked in 2023, university recruitment became a tricky subject for many hiring managers.
What’s the best solution for hiring great college talent while offering opportunities to diverse candidates?
Daniela Herrera, a DE&I consultant, tells companies to reassess the colleges they usually partner with and expand their lists to include minority-serving institutions, community schools, and trade schools.
The best candidate goes to the company that answers questions, keeps in touch, and offers first. This means communication is one of your best tactics for acquiring talent.
Take time to build a communication plan to ensure you keep candidates in the loop.
This includes touchpoints such as:
Thanking candidates for their interest
Rejecting candidates professionally
Continuing to follow up even after offer acceptance
Maintaining candidate relationships for future hiring
It’s also a good idea to segment your database to make it more effective. For example, a segment for passive recruiting (for future needs) and a segment for candidates who are likely matches for a current role.
For more information, read our guide on how to communicate with candidates
Let’s take a quick look at three companies that are seeing great success with university recruitment strategies.
A campus recruiting program with a focus on upskilling and learning
A university recruitment effort with a strong emphasis on diversity
A campus recruitment program leading with its culture
Adidas has an excellent campus recruitment program. It’s primarily focused on:
Culture and people values
Let’s briefly touch on that last point. Adidas has an upskilling program intended to break down barriers and help retail talent enter the corporate space. This enables the company to reach further and recruit skilled deskless workers.
Adidas also has a campus internship program. This program saw more than 80% of interns get recommended for hire due to their performance after 90 days.
For our guide on the topic, check out our blog on creating internship programs.
Dataminr has a great campus recruiting program focused on diversity and building future leadership.
Its campus recruitment efforts have a strong focus on learning and development. Offering this development is essential to build new talent and to nurture future leaders.
Dataminr also uses a large portion of its budget to target underrepresented candidates through social media and content aggregator platforms, helping them source diverse candidates.
Its campus recruitment program also partners with groups that amplify disadvantaged communities, such as Sistas in Sales, a global network for women of color, and Lesbians Who Tech, a community of LGBTQ+ women and gender non-conforming people.
Dataminr also leverages virtual campus recruitment techniques. Its interviewing process is 100% virtual, making entry-level opportunities available to all candidates, regardless of physical location.
Analog Devices has a campus recruiting effort that’s driven by culture and values.
Its university recruitment initiative puts heavy emphasis on culture, such as:
Its commitment to sustainability
Its international workforce
Its commitment to diversity
Ongoing education and continuous improvement
This is the ideal tactic for grabbing Gen Z’s attention, a generation that’s culture-conscious and takes a company’s values into deep consideration before making a choice.
University recruitment doesn’t just help you fill open roles, it provides your company with eager candidates, diverse hires, and stronger college relationships to aid future hiring efforts.
Optimize your strategy by monitoring metrics, choosing the right schools, and using skills tests to assess student candidates without requiring high GPAs.
With the right tactics, university recruiting can be one of the best talent acquisition strategies in your toolbox.
If you’re interested in leveraging off-campus recruiting methods, check out our blog on creating a virtual job fair.
To browse our database of more than 300 skills tests, visit our test library.
"On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far". (May 14, 2020). Pew Research Center. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/
Laurano, Madeline. "Retention, Engagement and Productivity: The Business Impact of Campus Recruiting". Yello. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://yello.co/blog/the-business-impact-of-campus-recruiting/
"Why you need a campus recruitment strategy". (March 15, 2017). Workopolis. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://hiring.workopolis.com/article/need-campus-recruitment-strategy/
Fry, Richard; Parker, Kim. (November 15, 2018). "Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet". Pew Research Center. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/
Lutchen, Kenneth R. (January 24, 2018). "Why Companies and Universities Should Forge Long-Term Collaborations". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-companies-and-universities-should-forge-long-term-collaborations
"Getting to know Gen Z". Barnes and Noble College. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://next.bncollege.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Gen-Z-Research-Report-Final.pdf
"What workforce diversity means for Gen Z". Monster. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://hiring.monster.com/resources/workforce-management/diversity-in-the-workplace/workforce-diversity-for-millennials/
Anders, George. (February 9, 2022). "Is Gen Z the boldest generation? Its job-hunt priorities are off the charts". LinkedIn. Retrieved July 25, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gen-z-boldest-generation-its-job-hunt-priorities-off-charts-anders/
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