Preparing for the Future of Campus Recruiting

Campus recruiting and early talent programs have reached an inflection point. During the pandemic, companies were forced to quickly rethink their approach to events, DEI, employer branding, and candidate engagement. Additionally, they faced new pressures with virtual events, limited student engagement, disparate systems, and a lack of data and insights. 

The on-campus presence that once served as the heart and soul of early talent programs shifted to a remote world. And, for many companies, it may never come back as employers continue to deploy virtual events. Indeed, according to a new study by Aptitude Research, 82% of companies will have some mix of virtual and in-person events this year. 

As companies prepare for the future of campus recruiting, they must look closely at their programs and consider new strategies and solutions. Technology and automation play a critical role in enabling this transformation.

However, traditional recruitment solutions are not designed to support the modern campus recruiting function and lack many of the key capabilities needed to effectively identify, attract, and recruit early talent. As a result, 65% of companies are planning to increase their investment in campus recruiting technology this year. Furthermore, today’s organizations have a unique opportunity to examine their early talent strategies and technology with a focus on data, experiences, and DEI. But, as companies plan ahead, determining “what’s next” is not an easy task. 

Aptitude Research’s report, published in partnership with Yello, includes other key findings:

The future of events is uncertain. Most companies are still determining their approach to campus events in 2022. With limited in-person options, concerns around the pandemic, and turnover on campus recruiting teams, most employers are looking at a combination of in-person and virtual-events. However, while virtual platforms have improved significantly over the past year, candidate engagement has declined as many students are feeling Zoom fatigue” 

As companies look at maturing their programs, finding a flexible approach to events will be critical. Additionally, data and analytics will play a critical role in determining events to attend, as well as which strategies will engage students in a virtual environment. What’s more, 62% of companies stated that historical data is the most important factor in determining an events strategy.

Increased focus on niche events. Many companies are shifting away from large-scale career fairs and info sessions and embracing niche events, clubs, and student-run organizations. Organizations are looking for more meaningful relationships with students through more targeted engagements. In fact, 52% of companies looking to improve DEI this year are building relationships at the student level, including attending student-run clubs, volunteer opportunities, and activism. 

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DEI must be a priority. DEI starts with early talent programs. And sure enough, 95% of companies state that DEI is a top priority for early talent programs. Companies must look at systemic changes to their campus recruiting programs.

Nearly half of organizations are looking to increase their presence at HBCUs this year and invest in events on these campuses. While attending more schools is a step in the right direction, companies need a more strategic approach that starts with sourcing and engagement. Diversity sourcing requires a commitment to identifying and attracting diverse hires.

Recruiter burnout is real. Fifty-seven percent of companies are increasing the number of campus hires this year compared to last year, but many employers lack the resources they need to be successful. As a result, 53% of campus recruiters are burned out this year. Furthermore, 1 in 2 recruiters would join an organization with better technology. Campus recruiters need support and resources to create more efficiency and a better experience. 

Employer branding is more challenging and more critical in a virtual world. Companies identified employer branding as having the greatest influence — more so than pay and incentives — when it comes to attracting early talent. That’s because early talent and students want to work for employers that have a strong culture and brand — corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, and community are all factors that early talent consider in an employer.

Automation can dramatically improve campus recruiting. Automation helps companies improve efficiency but also benefits the candidates, providing them with a fair process, consistent communication, and feedback. Automation can especially help companies better engage with talent early via scheduling interviews and communicating next steps. Hence, 67% of companies are increasing their investment in early talent technology this year.

Madeline Laurano is the founder of Aptitude Research. Her primary focus over the last 12+ years has been on the talent management market, specializing in talent acquisition. Her work helps companies both validate and reevaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. 

Prior, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media, and Brandon Hall Group. She is co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.

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