College Graduates Bring Waves of Talent to the Recruiting Process

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An internship offers new ideas and opportunities for both sides.

Every year, millions of college students look for great internships and graduates brimming with potential trade in campus life for the next phase: a new career. This relatively untapped, youthful market offers lots of talent and enthusiasm. And you can capitalize on that with a targeted college-centric recruitment program.

Some college-level recruitment strategies still work as well as they always did. There’s nothing wrong with setting up a table at a career fair. But if you want to step ahead of your competition and stay there, you have some recruitment program development work to do.

Tap Into Your Internship Program

If you’re working a solid college intern program, now is the time to tap into it and energize your recruiting process. If you don’t have such a program, why not?

An internship program could not be a more perfect place to find great, fresh minds to complement the team. You already brought them into the fold once, even if it was on a temporary basis. For interns who performed well, the second time could be the real charm.

Former interns:

    • Understand your company culture
    • Are familiar with company goals
    • Know current employees
    • Have worked on projects

Interns can also improve one of the most important new-hire metrics, which is time to productivity. Naturally, there’s still a learning curve for any new hire. But with people who have been there, it’s not quite as steep.

College grads who have worked for you in the past come closer to hitting the ground running. And that’s because not everything is new or foreign. Basic new-hire tasks such as touring the facility and meeting employees take time. Interns might need very little orientation or none at all.

Focus on Aptitudes and Attitudes Over Qualifications

Many recent college grads have one thing in common, and that’s a lack of work experience. But at the entry level, experience doesn’t need to be as critical of a requirement.

Monster says employers should “hire for an ability to gain a skill.” Think aptitudes, not experience. As long as candidates have the necessary education credentials, everything else can be learned.

The bonus? Hiring for aptitudes allows you to train recent grads in the way that your company does things. You’ll have fewer habits to un-train and a wealth of opportunity to help them build a valuable skill set, which benefits you and them.

Some employers take the employment assessment route to learn more about applicant competencies and aptitudes. Many such tests exist, and each one reveals something a little different.

Here are just a few to think about:

    • Gallup StrengthsFinder: homes in on a person’s hidden and not-so-hidden talents to build a customized profile of strengths
    • Caliper: identifies personality traits such as flexibility, strengths and personal motivators
    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: world-famous personality test. If you’ve ever heard about INFP or ETMJ, you’ve heard about the Myers-Briggs test. Be cautious with this test and perhaps reserve it for after employment or just for fun. MSN explains that it’s too easy to discriminate based on the results.

Visual-centric social media channels offer a realistic peek into your company.

The bottom line is that what recent college graduates lack in experience they make up for in potential. Everyone starts somewhere, including industry superstars.

Rethink and Build Your Social Media Strategy

You probably use social media to a certain degree. But when recruiting the youngest job seekers, you might need to tweak your approach.

Use Facebook and Twitter to communicate and share content, just like you always have. Look to LinkedIn for networking and thought leadership opportunities. Then look in a different talent acquisition direction, such as to Snapchat or Instagram.

Brand building for the Millennial crowd is a bit different because it has to resonate with them, personally. Business Insider says a good place to start is by showing off your company culture.

Get attention on Snapchat with authentic images and videos that show your employees in their element. Be creative and don’t worry about image quality.

In the same vein, Instagram lets you tell your company story in a way that appeals to younger candidates. It’s all about the branding possibilities, but not branding as you might know it.

SocialTalent explains:

“Potential candidates don’t want to see just any old images on Instagram. Oh no! When it comes to Instagram, users want to see the unseen and glimpse into a world they would otherwise have no access to.”

It’s the peek inside company culture that gets attention. Let your hair down and encourage employees to do the same.

Social channels such as Snapchat and Instagram aren’t the best tools for sourcing talent. But their technology is stable, lots of Millennials use them, and they give your brand a more youthful vibe. They also give you a platform for promoting your mentorship and training perks.

Give Prospective Candidates a Contest or Game

There’s a certain measure of trendiness that appeals to recent college graduates. Who wouldn’t want to work in a space that’s designed like one of the famous Google offices? But not every business has that sort of budget. What you probably do have is the innovative chops to design a great contest.

According to Forbes, businesses are reaching younger employees through hackathons and contests.

“While university recruiting has been around for quite some time, employers are stepping their game up by immersing students into their work environment and hosting competitions for students on their brand.”

Lukas Pesa, the founder of Lukas Pesa Consultation, tells Forbes that employers are approaching recruitment “as an investment rather than a purchase.” They’re working with students who are still in college in an effort to build a relationship that lasts after graduation.

Give candidates something to chew on, such as an exercise or contest. Employers can gain valuable insight into which candidates are worth a closer look. And candidates gain exposure and recognition that they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Both sides win.

Think about social media reciprocally, as well. Just because Snapchat and Instagram aren’t the best sources for searching job candidates doesn’t mean you can promote those posts through other channels.

When you post on one site, share it everywhere. That’s one of the biggest beauties of social.

    • Host a Q&A session on Periscope every week. You can download the app and host sessions anywhere.
    • Use relevant hashtags to make posts searchable. Caveat: hashtags don’t work on Snapchat, but geofilters do.
    • Improve LinkedIn searchability by including a hiring message at the beginning of your company profile.
    • Go a little nuts on Instagram and Snapchat. That’s what those social media platforms are made for.
    • Capitalize on Facebook audience insights to monitor your post reach.

“Millennials have done away with following tradition, in almost every arena of life,” says Forbes. So it’s “no surprise” that they have their own ideas about finding a great job, too.

Circle Back Around to Connect with Colleges

With all of the forward-thinking options available for recruiters, remember that some good old-fashioned methods are still fine resources for snagging the younger job candidate set.

Contact college career centers to get your message out. And then take it a step further.

Business Insider says:

“By building strong connections with career centers, departments, professors, and the advisers of professional student organizations, you’re expanding the number of reputable individuals spreading your employer brand message.”

Sam M. Walton College of Business recommends that employers:

    • Contact career development centers
    • Host campus career fairs
    • Conduct interviews on campus
    • Communicate with professors and department heads
    • If you’re recruiting interns, consider payment carefully. In some fields, such as computer science, paid internships are common.

College students and recent graduates might not bring years of experience to the table. But they offer other benefits that are just as valuable.

Young people who have been trained inside the company tend to have a lower turnover rate. They have enthusiasm about the industry and bring fresh ideas and insight to what might be a stale process.

If you hire former interns, you can skip some of the usual onboarding snags because the familiarity is already in place. And if you’re in the market for interns only, you can train them up to fit into your company later. College students and recent grads are worth the investment. They just need the opportunity to prove it.

Are you ready to step up your recruiting game to bring in the next top talent? Subscribe to Recruitment ADvisor and get fresh insights delivered to your inbox on the regular.

Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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About Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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