World Class College Recruiting: How is it Different From Other Recruiting?

Did you know that the average male college graduate got 2.65 offers and the average female graduate got 2.53 offers last year? Did you know that fewer than 45% of all high school graduates go on to higher education and that only about half of those in high school ever graduate? These are scary statistics if you are responsible for bringing in entry level talent. Even scarier if you are a manager with engineering or information technology positions to fill. Because so many jobs require skills that can only be obtained by college-level education and the shortage of graduates is so severe, the staid world of college recruiting has begun to change with a vengeance. Competition for the same students has become common. Technical graduates are reporting receiving up to seven offers at a time for different jobs, and are now in a position to dictate salary, benefits, and even job assignments. 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. Over the next few weeks, I am going to explore how you can develop a new strategy and make your college recruiting function competitive, even world class. We will talk about sourcing students, picking the schools where you should recruit, creating a unique college image for your company, marketing your company to the students, accelerating and improving the internal recruiting process, closing and assimilating the new students to your organization, and retaining and growing them. This week we will start with a questionnaire that will help you decide where you are in the world of college recruiting. This survey will be your guide as we start discussing each section over the next few weeks. WORLD CLASS COLLEGE RECRUITING ASSESSMENT TOOL DIRECTIONS: Place a “3” before each of these that your company is currently doing consistently and well. Place a “2” if your company does it sometimes or not very well. Place a “1” if your company is just beginning to do this or does it very poorly. Place a “0” if your company doesn’t do this right now. FINDING TALENT: _____ 1) We have established clear criteria for why we recruit at a particular school. These criteria have been correlated with success (i.e. we know acceptance rates, turnover rates and performance ratings for everyone hired). _____ 2) We have a well thought out hiring plan. We know what positions we need to fill and what skills are needed. Numbers are clear. _____ 3) Recruiting activities start early in the life cycle — as early as kindergarten and elementary school, with informational activities that continue into high school work programs and school-to-career programs. _____ 4) We use on-campus scouts to help identify the best students. These scouts understand our company and what we seek in a college graduate. _____ 5) We have programs to locate and track freshman and sophomores and we have criteria to determine if we drop them or continue to follow them on into their junior and senior years. _____ 6) We have programs to identify outstanding seniors and encourage them to pursue graduate work under our tutelage and with our financial support. _____ 7) We have good relationships with professors. We feel comfortable calling them, discussing needs, providing them assistance on projects or research, and in asking them to help us find exceptional students. _____ 8) We have well-designed internship/cooperative/summer employment programs that are used to help candidates pre-screen job opportunities and to help us assess candidates. It has formal entrance requirements and we conduct a formal assessment of the participants. Work is meaningful and relevant to the student’s major/interest. _____ 9) We have a web page that “hooks” potential candidates because it is dynamic and exciting. It offers useful information in a fun and easy to use manner. _____ 10) We make an effort to identify and attract students who are not actively seeking a job in our organization. We have a variety of activities and campaigns to entice and attract the students we want. MARKETING OUR COMPANY: _____ 11) We have a web page that explains what our company does, what our passions are, and why we are in business. _____ 12) We are actively involved in creating an image for our company that is appealing to college graduates. We have done market research to know what students are looking for in our industry and we have tailored our advertising and marketing. We are focused on brand creation for our recruiting program. _____ 13) We offer bonuses or other incentives to employees and faculty who refer great students to us. _____ 14) We have set up programs and signed up to attend relevant events and job fairs that will help to create this image and brand. _____ 15) We have exciting job previews on-line that really tell what it is like to work in our company at a specific job. _____ 16) We guarantee selected faculty members (who understand our company and our needs) at selected schools that we will interview any student they refer. _____ 17) We offer students a chat room or some other electronic means to communicate with managers and employees within our company. _____ 18) We take a market & customer oriented approach to our recruiting and do market research, surveys, and interviews so that we really understand our market and customer. SELECTION: _____ 19) We have defined and weighted candidate selection criteria. _____ 20) We apply a multi-pronged strategy to our selection process by using interviews, tests, referrals, and self-screening techniques. _____ 21) We add depth to our screening techniques by asking students to make presentations, work on projects, help with simulations, or through contests. _____ 22) We use tests to establish capability and/or organizational fit. _____ 23) The selection process is quick — decisions are made in hours, not days. _____ 24) Managers or other employees are the primary interviewers and decision-makers, not human resource personnel or recruiters. _____ 25) We have statistics and other data to validate our selection criteria. We know how each part of our selection process contributes toward the final decision. _____ 26) Communication between students and managers can and does take place by email. _____ 27) We assess and track candidate and manager satisfaction with our selection process and make periodic changes. _____ 28) We try not to hire “in our current image” but seek to find candidates with fresh ideas and who can bring a different and perhaps higher level of performance to our organization. CLOSING & OFFERS: _____ 29) We know why students have said “No” and have established ways to answers objections. _____ 30) We can make a flexible offer that meets an individual student’s needs. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. _____ 31) We have worked with HR and the benefits department to set up benefits that are truly leading edge and take into account the different lifestyles of young people today. _____ 32) The manager makes the offer and “closes” the candidate with assistance from the recruiting team. _____ 33) Start dates are clearly established and communicated and there is flexibility in these dates. _____ 34) There is a follow-up program so that managers can periodically keep in touch with new hires before they start. This may include sending birthday or graduation cards, making phone calls, or having regular email contact. SHORTENING THE TIME TO PRODUCTIVITY: ORIENTATION AND ASSIMILATION: _____ 35) All new college hires enter a tailored orientation program that starts on the very first day of employment. _____ 36) New hires are met personally by the hiring manager or some other suitable person when they report on the first day. _____ 37) All new hires receive business cards, a telephone number, and an email address within the first 2-3 days. _____ 38) Each new college graduate is assigned a mentor for his or her first 3-6 months. This mentor is trained and has specific goals and objectives. There is frequent feedback to the recruiting department. _____ 39) Assimilation is looked at as a process over time and activities take place for at least 3 months on a regular basis. _____ 40) A “college club” or other group is set up for the college hires to meet each other, share experiences, and have social activities together. _____ 41) 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. _____ 42) Our tuition reimbursement program is designed to encourage the pursuit of a higher degree and covers 100% of tuition, fees, books, and other expenses. _____ 43) Special effort is made to make sure all candidates are well placed in their jobs and that appropriate challenges and developmental opportunities are directed at these new hires as appropriate. GENERAL: _____ 44) All our systems & processes are easy to use and simple. _____ 45) We strive to be innovative and leading edge in our college program. We obsolete our recruiting style and practices frequently and try new approaches. _____ 46) Our management team would say that the college recruiting effort is one of the best and most effective of all HR practices in our organization. _____ 47) We have a shorter cycle time and lower costs than our competitors and we have figured out how to get that information. _____ 48) We track and measure everything. We know our costs, our cycle time, our acceptance rate, our turndown rate and we know WHY. _____ 49) All policies and rules governing college recruiting have been critically looked at and only the demonstrably valuable and important ones are in use. We have a philosophy that says: “We do not write a policy or procedure unless it directly affects productivity, safety or legal compliance.” _____ 50) Paper is virtually eliminated. Forms, policies, interview results, and applicant tracking are all on-line and available electronically. SCORING: Add up the numbers you have written in the blanks. A “perfect” score is 150. 121-150: You have a truly world class college-recruiting function. 96-120: Superb! You are close to having a great college recruiting function. 66-95: Great! You are clearly on the way to a great function. A little more work and you’ll be in the superb category. 65: Good. Your function is probably very good. It could be great! 0-30: Get going. You have a lot to do but the opportunity is huge.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at