Campus recruitment: a fresh approach
If you took a trip to visit your alma mater, you’d notice some changes. Beyond renovated buildings and new offerings, you would also encounter fresh, new faces. Meet Gen Z, a new generation of students ready to begin their career search earlier than those of the past. Many are liberal arts or STEM majors, who dream of working at a tech company or start-up. They are proactive, eager and well-rounded, with a strong aptitude for business. If you ask for directions, they will most likely refer to a smartphone.
There’s no doubt that the talent landscape is evolving. So organizations must adjust their recruitment strategies to attract, hire and retain these new candidates – or get left behind. This requires an in-depth understanding of a new audience, and means more than just ramping up marketing efforts.
This statement, made by one of 1,000 girls and women surveyed by consultancy Irregular Labs for a new report, perfectly captures the dilemma: “My numero uno message to brands that try too hard with the things that a 40-year-old thinks we would like is: When designing a product or creating an ad, if you think ‘oh that’s perfect for Gen Z’ — that means it’s probably a millennial idea and a straight path to failure. We are different.”
If you’re interested in learning more about this new candidate, keep reading. Below are common mistakes brands make in their approach to campus recruitment, and some tips on how to set your organization apart in a competitive market.
Mistake 1: You Wait Until Junior Year to Approach
Historically, organizations would concentrate their campus visits in the fall and target juniors for an internship that summer. The idea was to get them interested and involved when they had a strong sense of their ideal career. While the junior internship year is still important, campus recruitment strategies have shifted from checking a box to establishing sustained engagement from the start.
Solution: Engage Early and Strategically
Today’s students have high expectations, and they are loyal to what they believe and buy into. This generation prefers to work for an organization or employer that they admire, with 52% actively looking to work for a company whose mission and values match their own.
By targeting and engaging early, then consistently throughout the student’s academic journey, organizations can appeal to students that align with their brand. Companies are expected to provide services on and off campus – from tech-talks to skills workshops and sponsorships of societies and clubs. Those who get it right are those who consistently share the right information at the right time. Focus on what sets your organization apart but keep it real. Students can tell which companies are genuine and which aren’t, so don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
Mistake 2: You Discount the Importance of Social Media
In the eyes of a student who, in many cases, can’t remember life without a smartphone, if your organization doesn’t have an active social presence, it doesn’t exist. And, these days, an active social presence means more than a branded page with some job postings and corporate messaging. Social media is a crowded space with many voices, and yours needs to stand out in the right way. This includes sharing insightful information that speaks to your target audience.
Solution: Use Social Media as a Recruitment Tool
With 63% of students turning to social media to learn about potential employers, it is crucial to generate content that authentically positions your organization and demonstrates the impact you are making. Your social channels should showcase your company culture and your people in a genuine way, while indirectly answering the question, “Why should I want to work here?” Create short, engaging pieces of content that can live on your careers site and link to your social pages.
Because Gen Z craves personal connection, social media should be utilized as a method for direct communication. In fact, 80% of students expect employers to engage with them on social media, and 70% expect employers to respond in 24 hours or less.
Mistake 3: You’re All Tell and No Show
To win over a generation with high expectations, you’ll have to do a whole lot more than just say why you’re a great place to work. While you should be sure to build awareness and engagement through traditional campus marketing efforts, such as club and society sponsorships, email campaigns and presence at careers fairs, offering memorable experiences will help your organization stand out.
Solution: Create Experiences
Reward students who engage with your organization with more than swag. Give them something to talk about! Learning and development experiences can give students hands-on insights into organization, while also helping them build their resumes and prepare for internship applications. Get creative with your offerings, and don’t limit these experiences to in-person events. Interactive and 360-degree immersive videos or augmented reality not only help potential candidates picture themselves in your organization and learn more about it with little effort but also offer a memorable experience. Virtual mentoring, webinars and tech talks are simpler to execute, have a large reach and allow students to ask questions and get to know your business.
In today’s world, there are more ways than ever to assure your organization’s voice is heard. Plant the seed early so when it comes time for a fall visit, students will already feel connected to your brand. With an always-on strategy in place, companies can reach more talent, more often and establish relationships that will continue on and off campus.