Recruiting College Students? What to Know

There are many ways to find potential candidates for your organization. Most companies use a combination of online sourcing and in-person recruiting to find the ideal people to fill open positions. One great place to look for fresh new talent is at colleges. Learn why you should consider recruiting college students, review potential roles for college students, know the benefits of hiring college students for your organization and understand tops for recruiting college students. 


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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. College students and recent college graduates are often well-prepared contenders for entry-level positions. 

Related: Interviewing Strategies for New Hires: Best Practices 


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 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: 



Many mid- and high-level positions have assistants that help them manage daily tasks and take on some 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. 



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 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. 

Related: Hiring Interns: A Comprehensive Guide for Small Businesses


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: 


Saving money

Usually, college students and recent graduates are less expensive to hire than experienced employees. You can save your organization money in salaries by 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. 



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 in 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. 



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. 

Related: 7 Intern Interview Questions and Answers 


Tips for recruiting college students

Sourcing and recruiting college students may function differently than hiring experienced employees. Use these tips to help you effectively recruit and hire college students and recent graduates: 


Show how you’re unique

More than likely, the students you’re trying to recruit are being actively recruited by your competitors. Present the benefits and perks of working for your organization when meeting with or interviewing students. You want to stand out from other potential employers, so students remember your company and want to work for you. 


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. Know how your company helps others and be prepared to describe how the student’s role within your organization will contribute to the greater good.


Share testimonials

Provide testimonials from current employees about their experience with the company. These testimonials are often more impactful if they come from recent college graduates or other employees early in their careers. You can also bring these employees with you to job fairs and other hiring events to help engage with potential candidates. 


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

If your company doesn’t already have one, create a social media account for your business. Connect with colleges and universities online and solicit interactions from current college students by asking relevant questions or for thoughtful feedback. More than likely, college students and recent graduates will look to your online presence as a way of learning more about your company and whether they’d like to work for you. 


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

Whenever possible, send representatives from your company to job fairs. You’ll have the opportunity 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

Rather than focusing exclusively on hiring full-time graduates, consider offering internships during college breaks for younger students. Establishing relationships early on with students allows you to begin shaping the skills and experiences you want them to have once they graduate, and you can hire them full-time. 


Review their resume

It can be tempting to look exclusively at a college student’s transcript and GPA, but reviewing their full resume and even speaking with their advisor or professors can give you a fuller understanding of their capabilities. Use more than their grades to help you determine if they’re a potential contender for a role within your company. 


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 

If your company is growing rapidly or regularly hires college students for internships or entry-level positions, consider creating an ambassador role within your organization. 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

Ensure the career page of your website is accurate and updated. In addition to checking out your social media presence, most college students and recent graduates will review your website and career page to learn more about your organization. Include information on your career page like: 

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


Create a job shadowing program

Some college students learn best by actually seeing the workplace and what the job entails before committing to a position. 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

Employee referrals are a fantastic tool for finding excellent potential employees. If you’re interested specifically in college students, ask the 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. 

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 college student sensibilities and concerns.

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