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How to recruit college grads


Colleges are a terrific source of job candidates because recent graduates tend to be highly motivated and have the most up-to-date training and technical expertise. They can also be quite cost-effective to recruit compared to more experienced candidates.

But it can be hard to evaluate the skills of someone with limited workplace experience. You might not be able to look at a track record of successful work or be able to call many work references to verify how they have performed. This increases the risk of hiring the wrong person, which can have negative consequences on team cohesion and general business success.

In addition, college-aged job seekers then look online for jobs and seek work that is meaningful, so they require a different recruitment approach compared to other generations. 

However, these issues shouldn’t deter you from hiring recent graduates.

In this guide, we explain how to overcome the biggest challenges of hiring college grads, including how to assess their skills and where to find them.

Why are college recruitment strategies important?

It might be tempting only to hire workers with plenty of experience, but there are big advantages to recruiting recent grads:

  • They have the latest knowledge and skills fresh in their minds.

  • They’re excited about starting their careers and probably motivated to work hard.

  • You get to develop talent over the long term.

  • Since they’re at the start of their careers, they’re cost effective to hire.

  • They may be more able to adapt to your company culture.

  • They come from a much greater range of backgrounds than ever before, which can help you build a diverse team.

8 ways to recruit college students

College students often seek opportunities online or through their school. Here’s how to reach and potentially hire college students:

1. Use social media

Many college students have developed a social media presence, so ensure you have one on Instagram, X, TikTok, LinkedIn, and other platforms. Use this to advertise opportunities and show potential applicants why your organization is a great place to work.

2. Set up community events

Attending or setting up community job fairs shows students you’re hiring and enables you to speak to recent graduates interested in starting their careers.

Don’t overlook other community events, either. Taking part in charity events or cultural festivals as a team can keep you top of mind for college grads who may be attending or volunteering.

3. Attend career fairs

Local, industry-specific, and online career fairs connect job seekers and organizations looking for workers.

Colleges often advertise at local career fairs, and recent grads looking for work will seek these events out. Show up with brochures about your company as well as details about the positions you’re hiring for, and you may get resumes from recent grads.

4. Reach out to universities

Universities have faced criticism for not preparing students for the workplace, leading to a degree reset. As a result, they’re eager to support graduates seeking a job and may be keen to liaise with you, particularly through their careers office.

You can also recruit at universities by:

  • Advertising positions directly

  • Hosting talks, workshops, or information sessions for students

  • Having members of your team be guest lecturers in classes

  • Offering learning materials or branded company gear to students

  • Working with student organizations to connect with members

  • Working with alumni associations to advertise in alumni magazines or attend alumni networking events

5. Use online recruitment strategies

Recent grads are usually digitally fluen and will seek jobs online. In addition to social media, here are places to recruit online:

  • Online job boards, such as CollegeGrad and Handshake, which are specifically for recent graduates

  • Your organization’s website

  • Online networking events and information sessions

6. Be transparent

Recent college grads may not have a lot of experience in the workplace, so details that are obvious to you may not be clear to them. Address this by providing extra information about day-to-day duties and what success looks like in your role.

Be honest about compensation and growth opportunities, and give candidates a chance to ask questions about the role. The more they know about the position, the less likely you are to make unsuitable hires and suffer from high turnover.

7. Use gamification

Hosting competitions for students, such as coding challenges or hackathons, lets you get to know talent in your field. You may even get to know skilled students before they start actively looking for jobs, so you can recruit them. Gamification also positions you as a potentially exciting employer to work for.

8. Create ways for college grads to build their resumes

Create an internship program. You can have students gaining real-world experience over a summer or semester. If they’re a great fit, you can then offer them a job. 

Mentorships pair recent graduates with more experienced workers at your company, enabling you to develop talent and create skilled team members.

Recommended reading: How to recruit college students

Mistakes to avoid when recruiting college graduates

Avoid making the following mistakes to ensure you pick the best candidates:

3 mistakes to avoid when recruiting college graduates graphic

1. Not looking for transferable skills

Recent students may have worked on campus or in entry-level retail jobs, but some may have no work experience at all. To ensure you don’t miss out on great candidates, you need to look for transferable skills. For example, working in a retail position may have taught students customer service, effective communication, and familiarity with point of sale systems.

Remember that you can always train new hires in job-specific skills, and that adaptability and a willingness to learn can be demonstrated through other types of experience.

2. Not understanding how college graduates seek work

Many college grads look for work on their mobile devices, so ensure your website and online job ads are optimized for them. Applicants should have a smooth and pleasant experience, with no glitches that cause them to abandon an application part-way through.

College graduates may also be looking for multiple jobs at the same time. A hiring process designed to be fast and simple for candidates can help you attract more talent.

3. Not putting yourself in college graduates’ shoes

Recent grads are looking for a good work-life balance and a job that is purpose driven. They’re also keen to start growing their careers.

To attract them, highlight your company culture and any perks that promote a work-life balance, such as gym memberships or flexible working. Providing career development opportunities also helps.

What to look for in a limited resume

One of the big challenges when recruiting recent grads is their limited work experience in your field, if they have any at all. Instead, you should look for the following features:

  • Education. Finishing a degree and getting good grades shows an applicant had the cognitive ability and persistence. Students who take extra courses or online classes may also show drive and a love of learning that can help them in the workplace. 

  • Extra-curricular activities. Volunteer work and hobbies build skills and may show an interest in working with others. 

  • Any work experience. Work done outside your industry can show that a candidate is able to perform in a workplace. 

  • Leadership roles. Leadership experience in student organizations can show initiative and potential for growth.  

Another proven way to learn about a candidates’ skills is through pre-employment tests, and this is where TestGorilla can help. It’s a pre-employment assessment platform that offers a scientifically validated way to measure applicants’ skills. We suggest you combine up to four or five tests from our library of more than 300 to create a rounded assessment.

For example, you can use our tests to measure soft skills like cognitive ability, communication, and culture add, or job-specific skills such as management ability, language fluency, or technical expertise.

TestGorilla is also designed for the way job seekers look for work now. It’s easy to use on a mobile device and offers good customer service to test-takers. You can even customize your assessments with your company brand and logo and an intro video, so you can build your employer brand with young job-seekers.

Find the most talented recent grads with TestGorilla

Recruiting recent college grads requires a different approach to seeking out more established professionals. New grads tend to look online for their opportunities and to be focused on finding a great place to work.

While they can add a lot to your team, they may have limited experience, making it challenging to assess how well they’ll perform in your workplace. So you’ll need to look for transferable skills such as communication, customer service, and situational judgment in addition to any job-specific skills they’ve developed at university.

With its library of 300 pre-employment assessments TestGorilla can help you measure these skills and more so you only pick the best candidates for your role. Take a quick product tour today to see exactly what TestGorilla can do for you.


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