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Attracting the college candidate – Part II

Published on: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

What kinds of activities will increase college students’ familiarity with you, and hence, potentially increase the number of college and new-college-grad applicants?

In Part I of this blog series, I was inspired by information from the December 2014 meeting of the Minnesota Association of Colleges and Employers.  This article was inspired by the students we heard from in a student panel at that event.

Students were asked about the kinds of things that really help them get to know an employer?         Booth area2

In-depth employer website.

Clear information about the product/service, organization mission, customers, staff, and positions.  Ideally, if you do much hiring of interns and entry-level professionals, having a College section of your Careers page that includes details about common roles, helps potential applicants understand you and your needs.

Appear at college campus events.

Whether career fairs, campus interviews, information tables, or presentations at student organization meetings, if you can be seen and heard, word will spread.

Extensive 2nd round interviews.

When a candidate is invited to final rounds of interviews at your site, meeting with a number of individuals, including even lunch with new hires, receiving a presentation about your values and services, and an extensive company tour are all very helpful in getting to know an employer.

On-boarding & New Employee Orientation.

Once hired, training and orientation activities are key.  Classroom style learning was cited by one college graduate as impressive (“it showed me that the company really cares about its employees”).  Never under-estimate the power of first impressions.  Keep in mind, these students have friends, and if they have a positive experience with you, they will tell them!

Attracting the college candidate – Part I

Published on: Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

At the December 2014 meeting of the Minnesota Association of Colleges and Employers, the keynote speaker, Judy Zimmer (founder of Coachology), had us reflect on some questions.

Below are thoughts from myself, my small group, and the collective wisdom of participants to the question,

What gets in the way of attracting more college candidates?

Posted job description is complex and hard to understand.

  • Too much jargon or unknown acronyms
  • Content not tailored to a college student audience (acknowledging limited work experience)
  • Some internship postings are the same as the Full-time role description, but not adapted for an internship level

The level of technical skills desired may not be well-developed in a 19-21 year old yet

Your industry is unfamiliar to a college student because they have never directly purchased your service or product, e.g. Insurance

Lack of recognition of the employer (if you are not visible on social media, television commercials, web ads, billboards, radio or print ads, you may not be known to a college student)

We might feel frustration about the latter points?   But how do we assess job applicants?  Don’t we give favoritism to people with whom we are familiar, either directly or if they are recommended by someone we know?  What is the difference?  It’s about familiarity and comfort with the familiar.

Some of these things are beyond our control, other things we have more control over.

Being intentional about your employer branding efforts with young adults [See Part II of this blog article for more on this!], and tailoring job descriptions might help increase the number of these applicants?

What college grads want from their careers, Part II

Published on: Monday, March 17th, 2014

This article includes selected data from the Universum Student Survey conducted Spring 2013.  Over 65,000 graduating college seniors from across the country responded to this survey.

Primary Values

  1. To have work/life balance            (62%)
  2. To be secure or stable in my job                (57%)
  3. To be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I am serving a greater good     (49%)

Changes over the years to these values:  Since the Great Recession, the desire for security and stability has increased.  The interest in being “entrepreneurial or creative/innovative” has increased substantially.

Employer Attributes

What are students looking at when examining potential employers?

  • Attractive/exciting products and services
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Ethical standards
  • Fast-growing/entrepreneurial

Students are keen on organizational culture, and note these characteristics as most desirable –

  • Creative and dynamic work environment
  • Friendly work environment
  • Acceptance towards minorities
  • Enabling me to integrate personal interests in my schedule
  • Interaction with international clients/colleagues
  • Leaders who will support my development

Most attractive Job Characteristics:

  • Challenging work
  • Client interaction
  • Control over my number of working hours
  • Flexible working conditions
  • High level of responsibility

Once again, as in other surveys, the opportunity for career advancement leads over high salary.

Where and how students would like to find more information about employers:

  1. Career/Job Fairs               (47%)
  2. Presentations on campus             (44%)
  3. Employer –sponsored events    (38%)
  4. Employer websites
  5. Social networks
  6. Job Boards

Note, the top three involve in-person interactions with employers!

The Take-Aways for college recruiting:

  • Know your target audience and what motivates them
  • Determine your value proposition, what differentiates you from your competition
  • Find ways to integrate the personal touch, in-person interactions
  • Ensure that you are sincere in your messaging

Bottom Line – you can’t be what you’re not, you can’t be all things to all people, but if you can find ways to communicate with college candidates in person to describe your culture, and what could make you an employer-of-choice, you will be doing well!

Questions about this Universum survey report can be directed to John Flato,