According to AfterCollege’s 2016 Student Career Insight Survey, career fairs are the third most popular way that new grads find career opportunities (behind job boards and employer websites). On-campus info sessions and interviews aren’t far behind, tying for fourth place with social media and job opportunities through friends.
What does this mean for your small business? If you don’t have a campus recruitment strategy, it’s time you changed that. Here are some reasons why colleges need to be on your recruiting radar.
The competition for young talent is only going to get more intense
The job market is more dependent on young talent than ever before. According to the 2015 COU University Works Report, unemployment rates for bachelor degree holders, graduate degree holders, and college graduates are among the lowest in Ontario’s labour force (4.2 per cent in 2015). Millennials, in fact, are now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce. And as Canada’s labour force ages (the country now has more people over the age of 65 than under 15), the demand (and competition) for young college-educated talent will only increase.
This is already becoming apparent in the US. According to a recent survey of CFOs by staffing agency Robert Half, 23 per cent of American firms were now doing more entry-level recruiting from colleges and universities than they were five years ago.
“More and more companies are realizing the necessity for a solid campus recruitment strategy,” says Marsha Forde, director of human resources at Workopolis. “Apart from getting a leg up on changing demographics, campus recruiting allows you to engage with emerging talent, right on their own turf. This can be invaluable to your company’s future, providing key intel for recruiting and marketing initiatives, among others.”
Creating a talent pipeline (and improving retention)
On-campus recruiting can create a pipeline of interns, co-op students, and entry-level hires that will help grow your company. It can also improve retention rates, an increasingly important benefit as employees are switching careers more frequently than ever before, averaging three years with one employer (it’s even less for millennials).
TD Business Banking, for example, enjoyed a 98.6 per cent retention rate for the 600 MBA students it plucked off Canadian campuses between 2009 and 2013. The trick, according to Forde, is ensuring that young hires are actually getting valuable experience (which means more than just making coffee).
“The most common mistake is hiring without a work plan for student, or worse yet, assuming they can handle menial tasks in the office,” says Forde. “Students are smart, creative, and ambitious. They have a lot to contribute, and by giving them access to meaty projects, and strong mentors who can help them learn and develop, they will not only develop a sense of loyalty to your company, they will also become important brand ambassadors,” she says.
Building long-term brand awareness
On-campus recruiting is also an important tool for promoting your brand. Many of your potential future hires will be first exposed to your company on their college campus. Even if they aren’t hired directly out of school, these students and recent grads will remember your company as they continue their career path, and will keep it in mind in the future. In other words, some of your most talented employees of tomorrow are on campus right now, potentially unaware of your organization’s existence. A successful campus recruitment strategy will change that.
“Your campus program is an extension of your employer brand, so it’s important that you strive to provide an exceptional experience. By that I mean incorporating a solid onboarding program, a support system, and a clear program of what the hire will work on while at your organization. This can be a big investment initially, but it will pay dividends in the form of future employees, referrals, and customers. A negative experience will ring even louder and be potentially damaging,” Forde says.