Chances are your college recruiting program is a big waste of time and money.
It's not because recruiting at universities isn't a good source of talent, it's because your strategy is flawed.
If you want to win on campus you can't rely on "best practices". That's what the big boys do. You know the ones...the big consulting firms, the big tech giants and the massive retailers. They all used the same tired strategies but it works because they have scale, huge brands, big salaries and a massive budget.
You probably don't have any of those things.
To be really effective on campus you have to realize what you're up against. There are a handful of companies out there who disproportionately hire the best talent and they do it early -- typically months before you've finished designing that brochure that no one will read. Companies like BCG, Goldman, Deloitte, Alku, Hubspot, Blizzard and Google will get the most and the best talent. It's just a fact of life.
Don't fret though! There are still some high quality crumbs to be had. Your job is to win the battle for the best crumbs. In order to do that, you need to think differently. Here are a few strategies that will help you stand out in a sea of mediocre campus recruiters:
- Go Virtual: If you want to hit a large number of campuses on a shoestring budget, adopt a virtual webinar strategy like this -- WebinarRecruiter.com. Spend some time developing a good clean presentation and then automate it with a simple sign-up flow. If you have no idea what that means, ask someone from Marketing.
- Know Your Sweet Spot: Does your CEO insist that you go the "best schools"? If so, that's where all the big boys are doing a smash-and-grab on talent before you even get out of bed. Be more thoughtful about where you go. Go to schools that are under the radar -- the ones that the bigger companies don't have time to hit. The students will be thrilled that you came and you'll be able to make a splash on campus with fewer dollars.
- Play On Their Turf: Yes, you should go through the university career center for on-campus promotion, but you need to be more creative. Supplement job postings with Instagram and Snapchat Ads. This is an easy way to build awareness in your target market on the platforms that students are using every day. Try using "street teams" the week before an event to get students to come out.
- Use "Recruiting Celebrities" for Speaking Events: Don't send Bob the "Senior IT Manager" to a classroom as a speaker just because he attended that school and he's the hiring manager. You need a recruiting celebrity. This person needs to be able to draw an audience so they need to be bigger -- like your Chief Technology Officer for example. Bob can still go but he should be the undercard, not the main event. Alternatively, consider hiring a speaker. Hire someone who will draw an audience and then partner with them to weave in your employment message. It could be a big customer of yours for example.
- Create An Experience - Not a "Booth": If you're going to invest in a job fair booth, don't google "best career fair booth designs". You'll end up looking like everyone else. Start by thinking about three metrics -- increasing time-in-booth, increasing data capture and # of hires (of course). Often times when you think about meaningful metrics instead of trying to use best practices, you'll get better results. Try something unique like this where they re-used content and past booth materials to keep costs low but the metrics were off the charts.
If it's critical to your business to win the university recruiting game, then I hope these techniques at least open your mind to different ways of thinking. When you realize that you're fighting for crumbs, it should shift your mindset and send you down one of two paths. You will either try to compete with the big boys and battle for crumbs. Or you'll design counterintuitive strategies and find channels where you have a higher probability of success.
I hope you take the latter path. Sometimes NOT competing is the best way to compete.