At my university, a large white tent on Central Campus is a welcomed sight. This signalled an opportunity to get free lunch — an important opportunity for college students.
After standing in line for your free slice of pizza or a small sub sandwich, you would come to see scattered groups of people in matching polo shirts chatting up groups of students. The free food was a tactic employed by the visiting company to contribute to its on-campus recruiting efforts, and by golly it worked.
Think about it, college students need internships and jobs, and companies need new employees who are freshly knowledgeable and hungry for opportunity. Campus recruiting is a key recruitment strategy for many organizations. The pipeline of employees from college to the workforce is made possible for many companies through OCR, or on-campus recruiting.
What is Campus Recruiting?
On-campus recruiting (OCR) is the process of hiring students directly from colleges and universities. Organizations are able to recruit the best students straight from campus and build a pipeline for entry-level talent.
College students and recent graduates are ideal candidates for internships, co-op positions, part-time summer roles, and full-time entry-level positions.
What does a campus recruiter do?
Depending on the size of the organization, a campus recruiter can have any number of responsibilities that involve talent sourcing. The main duties include:
Hosting career days for students and recent graduates
Attending college career fairs to interact with students and promote the organization’s brand
Screening resumes, conducting interviews and performing skills assessment tests for junior positions and internships
Communicating with campus career success professionals about job openings
A campus recruiter should have knowledge and experience in recruitment or similar HR roles, candidate evaluation and interview techniques, familiarity with resume databases or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and good networking abilities.
Best practices for on-campus recruiting
It should go without saying that free food or branded swag is a sure way to get the attention of college students, but if you want to reliably source promising talent for your organization, it’ll take a bit more strategy and hard work.
1. Target appropriately
You can’t just show up to a college job fair and anticipate to get the results you’re expecting. As a recruiter, you need to identify the entry-level hiring needs of your organization and the institutions that are prominent sources of talent. Find schools with specializations in academic programs that match your organization’s functional needs.
My university was top in the nation for our agricultural engineering program, so you can bet that agriculture equipment companies like John Deere were on-campus at least once a semester finding qualified talent.
Related: If diversifying your talent pool is important to your recruiting efforts, job ads are a good place to start. Learn the best ways to optimize your job abs to attract the most qualified candidates.
2. Establish relationships
The professionals in the career centers at institutions want to work with you to find opportunities for their students. After identifying the target institutions and programs, work on building a relationship with these professionals who will keep you in the loop on events and can share job postings to the targeted students. They are the best resource you have at connecting with the best and brightest students on campus.
3. Attract students
No matter how much targeting and planning you do, if you can’t get students in front of you, it means nothing. Partner with your organization’s marketing team to build a strong brand presence on campus. Specially branded materials to help students understand your value as an employer can be extremely beneficial.
TIP: The younger generations will be 75% of the workforce by 2025, so you should know these 3 proven strategies for recruiting Millennials and Gen Z in order to get the best talent for your organization.
4. Close the deal
The sooner you can advance qualified candidates through the hiring process, the better for all involved parties. Use the time you have on campus to screen and interview students for the available roles. You should have offers on the table by the time you leave and even begin the onboarding process in some situations.
Ensure systems are in place for newly hired students to stay in contact with the company or connect with their managers and know their roles.
I love college
Getting back to a campus may seem like a fun homecoming of sorts, but campus recruiting is serious business. You can be successful by being purposeful in your approach and focusing on making the process near effortless for the students.
If you’re conducting interviews as part of your on-campus recruiting, check out these common interview questions you can include in your candidate assessment.
Derek is a former G2 staff writer who specialized in HR and recruitment trends and insights. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, a proud son of Chicago, and can usually be found discussing pop music, politics, or digital marketing on the internet. (he/him/his)