The Best Tips to Improve Your College Recruiting Strategy

March 20, 2019 Rae Roache


Today’s college students are the future of your business, but finding the right new talent on a college campus isn’t typically an easy task. We asked two career services professionals what they see companies doing wrong (and right) when recruiting at colleges and universities. John P. Nykolaiszyn, interim director of career management services at the Florida International University College of Business and Mary Ellen Olson, director of career and professional development at St. Norbert College, provided five campus recruiting techniques to help you attract the new talent your business needs.


Visit Multiple Times a Year

According to Nykolaiszyn, “The most common mistake is making only one visit, trying to find the best possible talent and then never coming back to campus – a one-and-done visit. The secret to doing this right is to schedule two visits, one in the fall recruiting season and one in the spring season. Visiting more than once keeps the company name in the students’ minds and shows they care about them.”


Fine-Tune Your Office Culture

According to Olson, “Companies talk about their culture when recruiting students and use this as a lead into the discussion about the job or internship they have available.” She adds, “Students today are not just looking for a job — they are looking for an employment situation that aligns with their personal values. Discussing culture goes beyond simply saying, ‘it’s a nice place to work.’” Instead, she suggests companies ask themselves, “What does this mean about behaviors and competencies required to be successful in the workplace? Students want to know.”


Make Job Descriptions Crystal Clear

“Having clear job descriptions and hiring to that description is critical,” says Olson. Just because you are recruiting students doesn’t mean you should skimp on effort. Recruiting students should be similar to bringing on full-time employees. Nykolaiszyn explains, “Write a good job description and put some marketing muscle behind it. When you write a two-sentence job description for a ‘social media internship’ because you’re convinced that only a young student can tell you how Snapchat works, it shows that you’re not fully invested in the process.” Students can identify when companies aren’t authentic and your talent pool will quickly turn cold.


Timing is Everything

The time frame for finding top student talent may not align with your company calendar. As Nykolaiszyn says, “Some colleges and universities have different fiscal and academic calendars. In some cases, recruiting the top undergraduate and graduate students in particular programs may officially start with the fall semester in September — a full eight months before summer starts. By the time the spring semester starts in January, the top students are all set, and firms are playing catch-up. Start early!”


It’s Not All About the Job

It’s no secret that millennials are looking for companies that allow them to make a larger impact in the world. Olson makes two crucial points, “Many students are not interested in devoting their ‘whole life’ to their job. Also, students want companies that give back to the community and provide time off for employees to be involved in community efforts.”


Your Secret Weapon: The Career Services Office

Navigating academic bureaucracy can be difficult, but the career services office can be your best guide to landing top tier talent. Not only does it serve the student population all the way through school-to-work transition preparation, but it acts as a conduit through which companies can identify the talent they hope to hire. Nykolaiszyn suggests, “You want to engage the dedicated career offices and have them help you navigate the landscape. Career offices can be the bridge to particular departments, student groups and even individual students.”


Learn more about the best college recruiting techniques.

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