40 Elements to a 21st Century College Recruiting Program

Feb 4, 2010

StuyvesantHallCampus recruiting is where the action is this year. Demand will be up, and competition for the same students will be common. Technical graduates are almost impossible to find, and visa restrictions, along with increased security, will make hiring foreign nationals more difficult.

It is no longer possible to be a passive corporate college recruiter; you have to have an aggressive and well-thought-out strategy if you even hope to attract the candidates you really want. Social media and the Internet have changed the game, and college students are looking for and will expect you to have a strong and interesting online presence. Going to campus to hold information sessions is definitely 20th century, and should be phased out over the next few years.

It will be replaced with online networks, brand-building, interactive and virtual information, and virtual mentoring programs. I have compiled a list of 40 elements that I think a 21st college recruiting program should have. I’d love your thoughts and feedback. Let’s get a good discussion going as to whether the virtual approach that I advocate will really be the way it is done.

Here is my list of the elements that make up a 21st century college program.

  1. You have a focused and clear picture of the ideal college hire. This has been vetted with hiring managers and is based on past success. In other words, you know who you want and what competencies and personality traits make them successful in your organization.
  2. You have established clear criteria for why you recruit at a particular school. These criteria have been correlated with success (i.e. you know acceptance rates, turnover rates, and performance ratings for everyone hired).
  3. You have reduced or eliminated all physical presence at campuses in favor of frequent virtual visits and tight communication channels for students, recruiters, and hiring managers.
  4. Key schools are becoming less important. Focus is now on finding people with the “key skills and traits” that you are looking for.
  5. Recruiting activities start early in the life cycle — as early as kindergarten and elementary school, with online informational programs and interactive programs that continue into high school work programs and school-to-career programs.
  6. You have programs to locate and track freshman and sophomores and you have criteria to determine whether to drop them or continue to follow them into their 3rd and 4th years of secondary education.
  7. You have developed web-based activities/games/simulations as well as instructor feedback methods that help you identify outstanding fourth-level students and encourage them to pursue graduate work under the tutelage and mentorship of senior employees. Ideally you also provide financial support.
  8. You have internship/cooperative/summer employment programs that are used to help candidates pre-screen job opportunities and to help you assess candidates. It has formal entrance requirements and you conduct a formal assessment of the participants. Work is meaningful and relevant to the student’s major/interest.
  9. You are using social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with students and  provide them with information and connections within your organization.
  10. You make an effort to identify and attract students who are not actively seeking a job in your organization. You have a variety of activities and online campaigns to entice and attract the students you want.
  11. You have a college website that is interactive, contains videos, has interviews with a cross-section of internal employees at different levels, and gives a candidate a thorough idea about what your company does, what your passions are, and why you are in business.
  12. You have a social network that selected students and employees can join to exchange ideas and information and that can act as a sourcing tool.
  13. You are actively involved in creating a brand for the company that is appealing to college graduates. You have done market research to know what students are looking for in your industry and you have tailored your online look and feel, promotions, and marketing. You are focused on brand creation for the recruiting program.
  14. You have exciting job previews online that really tell what it is like to work in your company at a specific job.
  15. You guarantee selected faculty members (who understand your company and your needs) at selected schools that you will interview any student they refer.
  16. You offer students a chat room or some other electronic means to communicate with managers and employees within your company.
  17. You take a market and customer-oriented approach to recruiting and do market research, surveys, and interviews so that you really understand your market and customer.
  18. You apply a multi-pronged strategy to your selection process by using interviews, tests, referrals, and self-screening techniques. You add depth to screening techniques by asking students to make presentations, work on projects, help with simulations, or through contests.
  19. You use tests to establish capability and/or organizational fit.
  20. The selection process is quick. Hiring decisions are made in hours, not days.
  21. Managers or other employees are the primary interviewers and decision-makers, not human resource personnel or recruiters.
  22. At least some portion of the interview process is done virtually using video/audio tools such as Skype.
  23. You have statistics and other data to validate your selection criteria. You know how each part of your selection process contributes toward the final decision.
  24. You assess and track candidate and manager satisfaction with the selection process and make periodic changes.
  25. You try not to hire “in your current image” but seek to find candidates with fresh ideas and who can bring a different and perhaps higher level of performance to the organization.
  26. You know why students have said “no” and have established ways to overcome and respond to objections.
  27. You can make a flexible offer that meets an individual student’s needs. You don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach.
  28. Start dates are clearly established and communicated and there is flexibility in these dates.
  29. Managers keep in touch with new hires before they start through Facebook, email, and other online tools, as well as by telephone.
  30. All new college hires access an online tailored assimilation and orientation program that starts on the very first day they accept an offer.
  31. Each new college graduate is assigned a mentor for his or her first three to six months. This mentor is trained and has specific goals and objectives. There is frequent feedback to the recruiting department.
  32. A “college club” or other group is set up for the college hires to meet each other, share experiences, and have social activities together.
  33. All new hires are given an initial assessment and feedback with their first 60 days. This assessment includes feedback from customers where it is appropriate.
  34. All your systems and processes are easy to use and simple.
  35. You strive to be innovative and leading edge in your college program. You make obsolete your recruiting style and practices frequently and try new approaches.
  36. You have a shorter cycle time and lower costs than your competitors and you have figured out how to get that information.
  37. You track and measure everything. You know your costs, your cycle time, your acceptance rate, your turndown rate, and you know why.
  38. All policies and rules governing college recruiting have been critically looked at, and only the demonstrably valuable and important ones are in use. You have a philosophy that says: “You do not write a policy or procedure unless it directly affects productivity, safety, or legal compliance.”
  39. Paper is virtually eliminated. Forms, policies, interview results, and applicant tracking are all online and available electronically.
  40. Your management team would say that the college recruiting effort is one of the best and most effective of all HR practices in your organization.

Let me know what YOU think.

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