Tips for Recruiting Students and Recent Graduates

Campus recruiting is the process of hiring students and recent graduates straight from campuses at their college or university. Learn how to attract the top young talent and fill your entry-level positions with the best and the brightest students!


What is campus recruiting?

Campus recruiting is the process of hiring students and recent graduates straight from campuses at their college or university.

If you want to attract the top young talent and fill your entry-level positions with the best and the brightest students, this article is for you!

Challenges in Campus Recruiting

Campus recruiting has completely changed in the last few years.

Here are the 3 key challenges in modern campus recruiting:

Campus recruiting challenge #1: Intense Competition for young talent

A recent survey from CareerBuilder has found that 74% of employers plan to hire recent college graduates, which is the highest outlook since 2007.


According to Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder:

Competition for soon-to-be college grads is escalating to a degree we haven't seen in the last 10 years.

In the current job market, where the unemployment rate continues to decrease and there's continued competition for sought-after skills, employers are especially attracted to college students and graduates, and the fresh perspective and skills they can bring to their companies.

Campus recruiting challenge #2: Employer branding

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Recruiting Benchmarks Survey Report, employer branding is the most important aspect of the typical college recruiting program. Nearly 90% of respondents rated on-campus branding as very or extremely important.

However, almost all employers agree that it’s really hard to attract good college talent. In fact, 92% of employers believe they have a “brand problem” when it comes to their campus recruiting efforts, according to CollegeFeed’s research.

Campus recruiting challenge #3: The Use of outdated practices

Campus recruiting has completely changed in the last few years.

We now live in a digital world where social media has become mainstream, especially in the lives of younger generations. Despite the digital disruption of on-campus recruitment, many employers still use traditional methods of recruiting students and recent graduates. However, these methods are no longer enough to recruit the best young talent.

How to tackle the biggest challenges in campus recruiting?

If you want to be successful at recruiting the best and the brightest students and recent graduates, you need to think beyond on-campus career fairs and posting jobs on campus job boards.

To tackle the 3 key challenges in campus recruiting, HR professionals and recruiters need to:

  1. Create a specialized campus recruitment strategy
  2. Build an attractive employer brand 
  3. Apply recruitment marketing tactics
  4. Leverage students referrals 

Best practice tips for campus recruiting

Excelling at campus recruiting is a challenging task. However, if you leverage the latest university recruiting trends, you can recruit top young talent much easier and faster. 

Here are the best campus recruiting tips that will help you effectively recruit students and recent graduates:

Campus recruiting tip #1: Start with your career site

We live in a digital world, and presenting your company with a booth in the campus career fair is no longer enough. The center of your campus recruitment strategy should be your career site. To maximize your student recruiting efforts, you should create a specialized landing page for students and recent graduates.

Here is a great example of a student-focused career site by Black Rock:


Make sure you use the appropriate language to attract the younger generation of employees. Present them with opportunities for career development at your company. The best practice is to highlight your existing young employee testimonials and success stories. 

Campus recruiting tip #2: Utilize social media

If you want to connect with the younger generation of your potential employees, social media recruiting is a must-have strategy. Use social media to promote your employer brand and attract students’ attention.

Create interesting content to engage the younger audience and build relationships with them on channels where they spend most of their time. You can be sure that students will google you and check your profiles on social media, so make sure you post relevant content to engage them!

Campus recruiting tip #3: Reach out to Career centers

Reach out to career centers at colleges and universities. Career center staff of most colleges and universities will be glad to help you with useful tips to maximize your recruiting efforts. They can help you choose the best way to expose your company to top talent and provide a variety of opportunities to get engaged with their students on campus. They can also point out already established campus events that will be the best fit for your company or help you organize your own.

Here is a great example of different ways The Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami helps employers recruit students on their campus:


Campus recruiting tip #4: Build long-term relationships

The golden rule for campus recruiting is: Build relationships! Establishing, developing, and maintaining relationships is crucial for successful long-term campus recruiting. This is because campus recruiting is not just a one-time thing.

Establishing strong, long-term relationships will help you ensure the stable income of top young talent year after year. Make sure you reach out to all relevant stakeholders. Start with career center staff, but reach out to professors, college assistants, and student organizations as well!

Campus recruiting tip #5: Offer internship programs

One of the best ways to promote your employer brand among university and college students is to offer student internship programs. Internship programs are very valuable for students because they provide an opportunity for students to gain “real-world” experience.

On the other hand, employers can benefit greatly from the fresh perspectives of ambitious, tech-savvy, up-to-date young professionals eager to contribute. Finally, when they return to their universities and colleges, your interns will serve as on-campus ambassadors who will promote your company among other students.

Campus recruiting tip #6: Offer job shadowing

Another great way to provide students with a glimpse into your company culture is to offer them job shadowing opportunities. Job shadowing is very useful for students because it provides them with an opportunity to experience day to day duties of a certain job position.

It is also a wonderful opportunity for your company to impress young talent with your amazing company culture and the knowledge of your experienced professionals.

Campus recruiting tip #7: Involve your existing employees

Besides job shadowing, there are many other ways to involve your existing employees in your campus and student recruitment process. Contact universities and colleges where your current performing employees graduated. Most universities will be more than happy to hear from their successful alumni and present their career success stories to their current students.

Campus recruiting tip #8: Give an in-class presentation

Giving in-class presentations is another great way to introduce your employer brand to university and college students. You current employees who are experts in their fields can offer valuable industry insights for university and college students, both theoretical and practical. Your CEO can also give a speech in class or at different campus events.

For example, here is the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's speech at Harvard's 366th Commencement:

Campus recruiting tip #9: Support student organizations

Supporting the work of student organizations on campus is a great opportunity to stand out among your competitors. Show students that you really want to invest in them and support activities and causes they care about. This way, you can get in touch with students that share your company’s values and position your company as their employer of choice.

Campus recruiting tip #10: Be featured in the Career Handbook

If you want to reach a wider student population, learn about the opportunity to have your company featured in the university's career handbook. A career handbook is the university's publication which provides job search and career advice for students. It is created to help students prepare for their job search and workforce entrance. These publications offer valuable tips and tricks on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and job search strategies, they also feature interesting internship opportunities!

For example, take a look at Michigan State University’s Career Handbook. Each year 22,000 Career Handbook magazines are distributed directly to Michigan State University students. Thousands of students also access the Career Handbook online.  

Campus recruiting tip #11: Organize the best on-campus recruiting events

There are 3 most common forms of on-campus recruiting events:

  1. Careers talk
  2. Careers fair
  3. Careers carousel.

According to CACEE’s research The Careers & Enterprise Company - Career Events. What Works?, career carousel is the most effective form of on-campus recruiting events.

A career carousel is basically a speed interview. In a career carousel, students speak with employer representatives for a short period of time (commonly 5-15 minutes). At the end of the period, students move on to a further employer representative, circulating around a number of different employers over the duration of the event.

These events are very popular among students because they are more interesting and interactive than visiting regular employer’s stands at the career fair. They also offer an opportunity for direct one-on-one personalized communication among the company’s representatives and students.

Campus recruiting tip #12: Set up a student referral program

You probably know that employee referrals are the holy grail of recruiting. Employee referrals are one of the most effective recruiting methods you can use to improve the time, cost, and quality of hire.

Referrals are used to get recommendations for great potential candidates from the company’s current employees. Similarly, you can set up a student referral program to boost your campus recruiting efforts. To maximize the effect of your student referral program, seek referrals not only from your current interns and employees but their family members and friends, university and college professors, assistants, and career center staff.

Campus recruiting tip #13: Build a campus ambassador program

Last, but not least tip for campus recruiting: Build a campus ambassador program. This campus recruiting method does ask for some time and effort, but it can provide incredible results!

Many companies, such as Apple, for example, appoint students to serve as their company’s representative in a certain college or university. A campus ambassador promotes the company among students by organizing various marketing and promotional activities and events on campus.

A great example of a structured, well-planned and executed student ambassador program is the McGraw-Hill Campus Ambassador Program. Take a look at the video this company created to promote its campus ambassador program:

How can TalentLyft help you improve your campus recruiting strategy?

To learn how using all-in-in recruitment software such as TalentLyft can help you excel in campus recruiting, schedule a free personalized demo with our experts.

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