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Recruiting College Students? What to Know

According to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, the best way to compete with other organizations for top talent among recent graduates is to strategically market your company through social media and other online mediums. Young adults and millennials make up a large percentage of the workforce, so it’s important to know how to recruit college students in order to stay relevant with today’s consumers.

Consider the following benefits of recruiting students for your organization and tips on how to attract new talent.

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Why you should consider recruiting college students

College students are great options for new hires. While many lack real-world workplace experience, they often have the most current education and training. When you hire college students, you may receive new skills and business perspectives you’ve never thought of that can make you more relevant among competition, so it’s important to incorporate interview techniques with that goal in mind. Lower payroll costs and a greater willingness to learn among new hires are two benefits of recruiting students.

Roles for college students

Since most college students will have limited job experience, they’re best suited for introductory positions that use their education and skills but that don’t rely too heavily on industry experience. Common roles for college students and recent graduates include assistant positions, internships and other entry-level roles.

Assistants

Many mid and high-level executives have assistants that help them manage daily tasks and take on job-specific responsibilities. For example, a researcher often has a team of research assistants who help with identifying resources, reading, note-taking and compiling data.

Interns

Internships are a vastly popular position for college students on breaks between academic semesters and even recent graduates. Often, interns perform a number of tasks and responsibilities for the company, all designed to help them gain experience and learn what it’s like to work in that industry.

Entry-level positions

Many companies have entry-level positions that require education and specific skills, but little to no experience. College students and recent graduates are excellent contenders for these positions since most will have an educational background in your field and the ability and willingness to learn on the job. Candidates with a high college GPA typically possess high levels of determination and perseverance, which make them ideal candidates for a variety of open roles within an organization.

Benefits of hiring college students

Hiring college students for your organization comes with a number of advantages. Consider these benefits when weighing the pros and cons of hiring a college student:

Upgrading technology

Often, college students and recent graduates are up to date on the most cutting edge technology and digital trends. This is beneficial for your company’s growth and development and for marketing and advertising.

Easy management

Since college students and recent graduates are joining the workforce directly from college or university, they’re used to receiving instruction and feedback from their professors, making them potentially easier to manage than seasoned employees used to autonomy.

Growth potential

A college student or recent graduate at the very beginning of their career has tremendous growth potential within your company. Hiring the right college student could pay off with a long-term employee.

Limited external distractions

Most college students and recent graduates don’t have the same personal responsibilities as older, more established employees. Since they usually don’t have to manage childcare or other external duties, college students or recent graduates can take on after-hours assignments or weekend tasks more easily than other employees.

Adaptability

Since most college students and recent graduates don’t have extensive work experience, they’re adaptable to new processes and procedures. You don’t have to un-train them and then retrain them on your company’s methods as you might with long-term industry employees.

Training interest

Many college students and recent graduates are eager to learn. Since they’ve just come out of the classroom, they’re also well-prepared to attend training sessions and develop new skills to improve their work performance.

Innovation

College students and recent graduates don’t have the institutional memory that many of your more experienced employees may have. College students are more likely to propose or introduce innovative strategies for work.

Tips for recruiting college students

The process of sourcing and recruiting college students might look different from that of hiring experienced employees. Use these tips to help you effectively recruit and hire college students and recent graduates:

Show how you’re unique

Stand out from other companies by defining the benefits and perks of working for your organization when meeting with or interviewing college graduates.

Appeal to altruism

Many college students and recent graduates enter the workforce hoping to make a positive impact on their local or global community through their work. Explain how your company values social corporate responsibility and how it maintains involvement in the community.

Share testimonials

Provide testimonials from current employees about their experience with the company at job fairs and other hiring events. These testimonials are often more impactful if they come from recent college graduates or other employees early in their careers.

Partner with colleges

Form relationships with colleges and universities to help create a pipeline into your organization. Depending on the industry you’re in and the size of your company, you may look to build partnerships with local institutions or with prestigious colleges and universities outside of your immediate area that tend to produce outstanding graduates in your field.

Use technology

Create a social media account for your business as a way to engage with current college students and job applicants. Connect with colleges and universities online and solicit interactions from current college students by asking relevant questions or for thoughtful feedback.

Connect with clubs

In addition to building partnerships with specific schools, establish connections with relevant clubs and organizations on campus. For example, if you run a marketing agency, establish a relationship with the campus marketing club to find potential candidates.

Attend events

Send representatives from your company to job fairs to meet with a range of students in person, share information about your company’s available positions and potentially review resumes and hold interviews.

Offer internships

Offer internships during college breaks for younger students to help establish relationships and begin shaping the skills and experiences you want them to have once they graduate. Create a list of questions specifically for hiring interns.

Review their resume

View an applicant’s entire transcript when looking for potential new hires. Consider extracurricular and volunteer work in place of experience and business accomplishments.

Consider international students

For some companies, international students are excellent employee candidates. If you need employees who are bilingual or knowledgeable in cultural guidelines for specific regions or countries, looking outside of the United States can help you find fantastic applicants who still bring you all the benefits of in-country college students.

Employ an ambassador

Create an ambassador role within your organization to manage internships and entry-level positions. This person works full-time to build connections with colleges and universities, spends time on campus, sources potential candidates and helps college students navigate the hiring process.

Upgrade your career page

Update your sites and make your website and social media presence accurate. Most applicants will use your online information in their applications. Include information on your career page like:

  • Open positions
  • Company history
  • Pictures and videos
  • Employee testimonials
  • Perks and benefits

Create a job shadowing program

Create a job shadowing program that allows college students to come to your workplace for the day and shadow actual employees. They’ll get a feeling for how your organization runs, common job responsibilities and what the company culture is like.

Seek employee referrals

Rely on employee referrals. Ask recent graduates on your staff to reach out to their alma maters and current college student friends to see if there are any potential candidates you could consider for employment.

Frequently asked questions about recruiting college graduates

How do recruiters find recent graduates?

Locate top talent by pairing directly with local colleges and universities. Department heads and counselors can recommend job openings to graduates who can apply directly.

What are the top industries hiring college graduates?

College graduates tend to look for employment based on their majors. As of 2018, some of the top industries for college graduates include:

  • Business
  • Community and social services
  • Engineering and architecture
  • Finances
  • Healthcare and science
  • Information technology
  • Management
  • Communication
  • Teaching

What percent of college graduates gain employment after graduation?

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), in 2020 approximately 50% of all graduates held full-time employment. This number is slightly lower from 2019. The demand for employment is up and the number of jobs has decreased, which may make it easier for companies to hire college students.

College students and recent graduates make excellent employees for a number of reasons. When you’re sourcing and recruiting college students, ensure you’re maximizing your search by appealing to the sensibilities and concerns of recent graduates.

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