It is becoming more difficult for technology companies to recruit college seniors due to the increasing number of open positions and high salary standards set by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. So how does a smaller tech company compete with these giants and attract talented college seniors? The answer is simpler than most would think: Establish yourself as a top employer at your target campuses. This might sound like a daunting task, but if you follow these five keys to success, you will be attracting top campus talent in no time.
1. Identify the Skills and Characteristics of the Ideal Candidates
Before you can go on campus and begin branding your company, you must first sit down with company leaders to establish what the ideal college hire looks like. It is important to identify what skills and traits are most important for success within your organization. For some that might be a minimum GPA of 3.5 and an internship with hands-on experience developing in a specific language. For others it could be less focused around hard skills and more focused on a person’s ability to learn, problem solve, and work effectively with team members. For an example, here are some of the qualifications and characteristics Credera looks for when recruiting college seniors.
Regardless of what those traits are, establishing who the ideal candidate is for your company is the foundation of your campus recruiting strategy. Before you can begin branding your company on campus, you must first know what types of students you want to target.
2. Brand Your Company on Campus
Now that you have identified what type of college students you are looking for, you can begin targeting campus organizations and student groups. Branding won’t happen overnight; it takes patience and continuous campus contact and involvement. The first step to establishing your company as a top employer on campus is to start getting involved on campus through networking events, career fairs, information sessions, class lectures, etc.
Start by attending the career fair and connect with the career services office on each campus to learn about different networking events offered and how to schedule information sessions. Information sessions are a great way to introduce your company to a campus by giving students an overview of what you do and what a day in the life might look like for them.
To further grow your brand on campus, begin introducing yourself via email to department leaders and student group presidents who are connected to students you want to target. Establishing good relationships with these leaders will open the doors to opportunities to meet your target students through specific events or an invitation to be a guest lecturer in a class. It is key that you provide value to students at each event you host or attend on campus. Students appreciate helpful tips around resumes, interviewing, and how to choose between offers. Showing students real world examples of projects your company has worked on in the past gives them insight into the daily workings of your company and helps them determine if your company is a good fit for them.
Ideally, you want to host and attend a few events prior to the career fair so you can attract students and get them excited to apply and talk to you at the fair.
3. Find Passionate Volunteers Who Will Relate to Students
Now that you have outlined a calendar of events for the recruiting season, it is time to find the right volunteers to accompany you at each. If possible, it is a good idea to bring alumni to on-campus events; students resonate very well with alumni and like knowing why they chose your company for their next step after graduation. Alumni are typically excited to go back to their alma mater and bring enthusiasm to recruit the next group of great employees.
It is also important to bring volunteers of all levels to events. Students relate easily to newer hires who are in roles they would be applying for; they can learn more about the daily activities of the job and the opportunities entry-level roles offer. On the other side of the spectrum, it is also critical to bring in leadership such as vice presidents or directors to give students an overview of the company and recent projects or initiatives. Bringing in different leaders shows students how important campus recruitment is to your company.
4. Evaluate Candidates Through a Variety of Interviews
Now that you have identified the type of student you are looking for and attracted students through various events on campus, it is time to evaluate potential candidates through the interview process. It is important to conduct a variety of interviews, targeting skills and traits to learn the candidate’s full story and identify if they are a good fit for the company.
These are three types of interviews you should consider conducting: behavioral, technical/skill set, and cultural add.
The purpose of a behavioral interview is to gain insight into how a candidate acts in different scenarios such as conflict, ambiguity, and leadership roles. You can learn about a candidate’s ability to problem solve and overcome a variety of work situations.
The technical/skill set interview allows you to design a test or specific interview questions targeted at identifying if the candidate has the technical aptitude and specific hard skills they need to be successful at their job.
The cultural interview should be the last step in the process where the sole purpose is to identify if the candidate is a good fit for your company: Would they work well on one of your teams? Would you like working with this person?
Alex Moore, Credera’s director of talent acquisition, details the importance of the cultural add interview and how to design effective, targeted interview questions in this article. It is important to be thorough during the interview process so you can be confident that the candidate is right for your company.
5. Highlight Your Culture Through an Interactive Office Visit
Once you have identified the types of interviews each campus candidate will go through, it is now necessary to plan an office visit where they will experience your company culture firsthand. It is important for students to be able to envision what it would be like to work at your company:
What is the working environment like?
Is the workspace open and collaborative or are there designated workspaces and team rooms?
Who are potential people they could be working with?
What could a day in the life in their role look like?
An interactive office visit should have the following components.
A company overview given by a partner or C-level executive: This shows candidates that the company values their time and that there is an open communication line to leadership.
An office tour: This allows candidates to imagine what their day-to-day activities will be like.
A breakfast or lunch with employees who would be their peers once they start: Recent hires can be your biggest advocates for attracting college seniors because they can provide genuine answers to candidate questions and provide a sneak peak into the company culture. Tom Kelm, 2018 campus hire at Credera, did just this when he detailed his journey from an undergraduate student to a professional consultant in his blog post.
Bringing It All Together
In order to remain relevant in this competitive tech market, it is crucial to establish an effective campus recruiting program. Following the five steps above over two to three years will grow your company’s brand on campus as a top employer and improve the quality of campus students you hire. This process won’t happen with the snap of a finger. But the time and effort put into campus recruiting will be paid back in the strong, talented individuals you attract to join your team. Now that you have added exceptional campus recruits to your team, read my next post to learn how to grow and retain that talent.
Credera has experience working with clients to improve employee engagement and recruiting strategies. If you would like to discuss ways you can foster employee engagement and enhance your recruitment efforts, please reach out to Credera here.