How to Attract College Students to Your Job Openings

By Danni White on January 29, 2017

Employers are always looking for the best employees to fill their open positions. Some recruiting strategies have not changed but many new ones are rightfully evolving. Due to newer trends such as mobile and social network recruiting and online job applications and reviews, some hiring managers are forced to become more proactive in attracting talent to their companies.

A 2014 Michigan State University College Employment Research Institute study found that out of 5,700 respondents, nearly 120,000 new graduates were expected to be hired.

Between attending college job fairs and meeting up with college students at typical graduation parties, if you’re a recruiter, you’re probably looking for ways to attract new college graduates to your company’s open job positions. Unfortunately, you’ll be up against a lot of stiff but eager competition.

In the fast-paced, technologically advanced society that we live in, college students and graduates are looking for work, but they’re looking in places that are familiar and comfortable to them (think about LinkedIn, Twitter, forums, etc). There is nothing left to do but fight with the competition and you can come out on top attracting a good number of millennial candidates to your positions.

1. Start with what college students look for in a job.

According to a 2014 CollegeFeed report written about on the Harvard Business Review, millennials look at the “people and culture fit” above anything else. Second is “career potential” while third, fourth, and fifth are “work/life balance,” “compensation,” and a “challenging environment” respectively.

So in short, communicate your company’s mission and goals. Millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to work for an employer that they think they fit well with and in which they work well with the other people already there. Graduates look for meaning and purpose in their work, not just money.

If your company fits this bill, you’re likely to attract more college talent than you can handle.

2. Promote career growth up front.

Graduates want to move forward at a reasonably rapid pace and that movement must be a continuous upward climb. They will quickly become bored and their work productivity will suffer if they don’t feel like they will have enough goals in front of them to always be looking ahead to the next thing.

Be able to let the potential young employee know how much growth and what kind of growth they can expect to experience at your company. This is one of the reasons Silicon Valley-based tech companies attract young talent because they are constantly innovating and growing. And to a new college graduate, this means they have a good shot at growing too.

3. Target schools by industry.

Focus on schools that have great programs for which you are looking to fill positions. Build relationships with the college prep office or career fair office through which students often are able to obtain internships in their junior and senior years or part-time summer jobs.

For example, if you want to fill three positions in the next month in your company’s software development department, you could sponsor a weekend for software development students at an area college or a week-long camp to get to know some of the students in your area and help them to develop professionally and start thinking about their future plans.

Show students who show up at your camp or sponsored event how a degree from their university can turn into a career at your company.

4. Be open, honest, and transparent.

No company is perfect. Every candidate for the job may not be the absolute best fit. Hiring is often a very fine balancing act between picking the best out of a pool of great candidates and letting everyone else down easy. And a bad hire can be expensive in more ways than one.

Seth Godin makes a point about always wanting to appear as on top and in control and this goes for company image as well when recruiting to college graduates. He writes the following.

“There are problems [with perfection]. First, it doesn’t scale. When an indomitable brand or figure encounters an obstacle that can’t be overcome, suddenly, the promise is hard to keep. And if the indomitable begins to succeed, he gets hungrier for the next conquest, making this failure inevitable. Second, it’s a bad strategy. In the long run, resilience always outperforms sheer strength.”

With that said, make sure you are open, honest, and transparent about what the job requires, what will be expected of the employee, and how the job will work for the employee. Your company isn’t the best at everything and doesn’t win every battle. Discuss the benefits and the challenges — the good, the bad, and the ugly as they say.

5. Personalize communication and be digitally flexible.

College graduates don’t often have time or space for a lot of paperwork. Therefore, they practically keep up with everything on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. In fact, 56 percent of millennials are said to have used a digital device to search for and apply to universities and to jobs.

The website content and mobile-friendly functionality of your company are increasingly important and graduates will most likely look for digital responses to most of their applications and communications. Using email, social media, messaging, and so forth to deliver information and to remind graduates of needed documents can reinforce a positive connection with your company.

Some ways in which you can use digital flexibility to connect with new graduates is following up with reminder emails or text messages regarding incomplete applications. Use social media to highlight deadlines for application and company news. Ask for email addresses, phone numbers, LinkedIn and WhatsApp profiles to create a database so you can follow up with relevant information.

Going where the type of employees you want to hire are, offering meaning from the work, and keeping the process simple and honest will attract the talent you need. Your company will soon be on its way to filling all those open positions and having a productive and powerful workforce.

By Danni White

Uloop Writer
Liberty University
Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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