When you were in college, did you go to career fairs? If you did, can you remember what made some companies stick out more than others? It probably wasn’t flashy signs or mounds of “swag” they used to reel you in. If you actually remember anyone from those events, it’s likely because you either formed a relationship with someone or you ultimately went to work for them.
Campus recruiting events can be a home-run for companies if they are done right. Bringing in new, young talent allows a business to get fresh ideas into day-to-day operations. Not to mention, hiring a new grad allows a company to mold them into the employee they need. Unfortunately, many companies do it wrong and up leaving these events empty-handed.
So, what mistakes should recruiters be mindful about avoiding?
Picking the Wrong Schools
If you are an emerging technology company, would it make sense to set up shop at a school where the vast majority of students are majoring in agricultural studies? Sure, there is a need for technology on the farm, but that’s a job for salespeople, not recruiters.
It’s important to do your research about what schools you will be presenting your company at. If you require your new hires to have an advanced degree, it doesn’t make sense to go to an undergrad recruitment fair. Likewise, if there is a school that pops out at you on a resume, definitely sign up for an event there to get more of the talent you already know you like.
Using Outdated Technology
Remember way, way back when Facebook was only offered to college students, and then it became available to everyone (including their parents)? The platform is still wildly successful, but it’s very different now and younger generations have less interest in it. If you’re trying to bring in young talent, you need to understand their generation. Would you ever consider setting up a desktop computer at your table, and asking prospective candidates to browse your company’s website using dial-up internet? No. Because it’s outdated.
As job fair season approaches, take your time to learn about the latest technologies - whether its a platform they will be using on the job, or how you physically show them your company’s website. Microsoft Office isn’t going to impress anyone that is currently enrolled in a university, so try to find the technology that will.
Trying Too Hard
Have you ever heard a grown man/woman use some kind of slang in everyday conversation that makes you cringe? That’s trying too hard. The recruitment equivalent of this is trying to sell your company by promising bean-bag chairs and ping-pong tables, or offering a “happy hour” event for students over 21 after the fair.
While the ping-pong and free beer may bring people in, it won’t make them stay (and if you offer college kids free food and drinks, they will almost certainly show up to your event - even if they have no interest in your company). Instead of promoting what you think your target audience wants to hear, do some actual research to find out what it is they are looking for in a job. Look at the trends in their generation and highlight perks that associate with those trends such as flexible hours, work from home, or unlimited vacation.
Sending The Wrong Recruiters
Going to a college career fair is a long day for a recruiter. There is set-up and tear-down as well as a lot of talking to total strangers. It’s easy to lose steam by the end of the day. However, students with early classes are the ones showing up to job fairs at the end of the day, and if the recruiter those students engage with is burned out, exhausted, and uninterested then there is no way they will be able to sell the company.
Once you’ve signed up for a recruitment event, use strategy to staff it. Even the best recruiters get tired by the end of the day, so consider sending them in shifts (one recruiter + one top employee for four hours, then another set for the second half of the day). Also, like choosing the right schools, choose the right recruiters for the school. If the event is at a school with a lot of great technology programs send your tech recruiter - not your finance recruiter.
Not Following Up
College students will likely be some of the most passive candidates you’ll come across. If the event isn’t in a “time-crunch” period like just before graduation or the time to secure summer internships, these candidates have a lot of things on their plates (like a fulltime class schedule) so, dropping a quick note to a recruiter once in a while won’t be on the top of their minds.
To remedy this, create your own follow up system. If you find a star candidate, it will be on you to keep in touch with them and keep them engaged despite their mid-terms or finals schedule. Come up with a process before the job fair takes place, and create it in a way that everyone on your team has access to notes in case something changes and you’re no longer responsible for the role you had that student in mind for.
In order to attract young talent, a recruiter must be able to understand what it is they want and are looking for in a company. Unfortunately, job fairs aren’t the best places to really get to know someone, but its an opportunity to make a connection worth fostering long-term.
If you’re interested in learning more about the latest recruitment technologies, check out DeepHire.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to discuss your needs with you and help you get prepared for upcoming recruitment events.