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On-campus recruiting is the process of attracting, engaging and employing the next generation of graduate talent.

Although this may sound pretty straightforward, building a successful strategy that delivers is not as simple as putting up a stall at a career fair and hoping for the best. While career fairs are a pivotal element of university recruiting, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of a campus hiring strategy.

The truth is, taking effective control of the candidate experience from initial engagement through follow-up often makes or breaks a strategy.

Equally, even though campus recruiting events sit at the heart of most college campus recruitment strategies, activities that surround these fairs such as on-campus information sessions, alumni referrals, student group networking and, most importantly, online outreach are important elements of a broader university recruiting strategy. The focus on these additional activities has been amplified in recent times as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced campus recruiters to quickly adapt to our “new normal”.

This has resulted in an increase in online events, a new dependency on video interviewing, as well as other forms of online engagement that hone the employer brand.

Whether looking for internships, entry-level roles or graduate schemes, organizations have not stopped putting emphasis on sourcing the best and brightest to become their future leaders. So, why do so many organizations consider on-campus recruiting to be such a crucial part of their talent strategy? Let’s look at some data:

The retention rate of college graduate hires:

  • After one year:        93.6 percent
  • After three years:    73.3 percent
  • After five years:       62.9 percent

In addition:

Sixty percent of new hires in the last 12 months were new graduates.

Over 49.5 percent of new hires are from on-campus interviews.

NACE 2019 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey Report

What About On-Campus Recruitment During COVID-19?

Though many things have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, the good news is that the fundamentals of talent acquisition remain the same: organizations are looking to attract and engage the most talented graduates. Even with internships, companies are doing their best to adapt to the current state of the workplace. The most recent data shows that 42 percent of employers are moving their internship programs virtual and 40 percent are reducing the length of the internships or delaying the start date to ensure they can still go ahead.

Given that the demand for graduate talent hasn’t waned but the traditional methods to engage with candidates have, the rise of virtual events and video conferences was somewhat an inevitability. The reduction in face-to-face campus recruiting events could have caused considerable disruption. And yet, the move to make graduate fairs and on-campus recruiting events virtual has in fact been well received by today’s student population – the digital natives. As such, the transition to digital events, conferences and interviews has been relatively smooth.

Even though there will always be demand for in-person interaction, there are substantial benefits to having more virtual events. From reduced costs and a larger ROI to the ability to connect with a wider candidate base, online events allow for less time setting up and more time in front of potential candidates, albeit virtually.

To this end, earlier this year Avature released its video interviewing platform, a solution designed to maintain talent acquisition activities while adhering to social distancing protocols. From facilitating virtual interviews to empowering online events, Avature video can be combined with any other solution (including our campus hiring solution) to enrich the candidate experience.

The Campus Candidate Journey

Regardless of how your on-campus recruiting activity is carried out, one thing that remains crucial is a dynamic candidate journey.

Are you engaging candidates before the event, managing and segmenting them during the event, and following up with them after? These activities should be emphasized more than ever given the reduction of in-person contact.

Banner of Avature's e-book on campus recruiting best practices and a link to the landing page to download it.

What we have lost in terms of face-to-face interaction should be made up of solid communication and engagement techniques. Here are some key best practices to bear in mind:

Streamline Recruiting Activities With Agile Technology

It’s common for on-campus recruitment teams to have several programs and roles they’re trying to fill at any one time and it is important to have the resources to manage these effectively and simultaneously. Unfortunately, many teams are still working off Excel spreadsheets, amalgamating resumes from various sources or typing up feedback notes from several scraps of paper. This is a waste of valuable time, and finding the right technology can help streamline these tasks.

This is exactly what Viasat was trying to achieve when they chose to leverage Avature’s technology to help create a centralized feedback portal. Not only did they speed up their ability to identify the strongest candidates, but they freed up recruiters from time-consuming tasks to focus on what really matters – the candidate experience.

Focus On Social Media Visibility

Social media speaks for itself when it comes to marketing and engagement. With the average person spending over two hours and 20 minutes on social media a day, sculpting your unique message across your preferred platforms and taking time to target graduates will help fill your talent pools. This is also a great way of creating a buzz and raising awareness prior to your upcoming campus recruiting event. The best part? Social media can complement any regular recruitment marketing efforts you are already carrying out.

Highlight Your Employer Branding

Once the student or graduate candidate has shown interest in your organization, ensuring your employer brand is front and center could be the deal maker or breaker. Consider the fact that 75 percent of candidates are likely to research a company’s reputation before applying to a job opening.

Whether they are registering for a campus recruiting event, applying for a role or just looking to find out more, make sure they are coming into contact with your own branded portals, landing pages and communications. This is why Encompass Health decided to design a fully branded landing page for each of their Facebook ads, creating a unique and enhanced candidate experience for their audience and subsequently improving their talent pooling and segmentation.

Segment Your Events

At any event, virtual or otherwise, don’t forget to prepare for the fact that you are going to receive an influx of candidate data in a short space of time.

Not only will you need to process this information effectively, but you will need to quickly share the strongest profiles with your talent acquisition team members. It is here where the right campus recruiting technology platform can deliver a competitive advantage. Keen to tap into this opportunity Encompass Health implemented a branded onsite portal that allows recruiters to rapidly enter new leads into their system and leave confidential feedback directly within a person record.

It’s time to move away from legacy systems like Excel spreadsheets and find a technology that allows you to make quick notes on a shared platform, automatically separate candidates into relevant pipelines and share them with the right hiring managers in a timely manner. This will put you in the best position to hit the ground running once the event is over and you have follow-ups to carry out.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

As on-campus recruiting is a competitive world and top candidates are likely to be engaging with other brands.

As such, the race is on to seal the deal with your favorite candidates as soon as you can. This is where all the hard work of recruitment marketing, attracting, engaging, screening, and segmenting comes into its own. A priority should be given to timely, tailored responses and having your candidates already segmented can cut hours off this process. Set up automated workflows to trigger an invitation to schedule an interview, apply for a specific program or to attend an upcoming campus recruiting event for top talent.

Be sure to be clear about the next steps and cover all potential queries and information that might be useful for candidates. As the most sought-after talent will be receiving content from all angles, making your content shine with tailored messages is a top priority.

The Future of On-Campus Recruiting

As things stand, virtual events will be the staple of campus recruitment for the foreseeable future but are also likely to play a big part in strategies even once face-to-face meet-ups are permitted once again.

COVID or not, the key to successful on-campus recruiting is delivering a stand-out experience that captures attention and interest before, during and after the event. Those organizations that do so most effectively are leveraging technology that facilitates speed and agility when it comes to follow-up communications,  as well as the ability to react quickly with interview scheduling. On top of this, the right campus hiring solution can create a high-touch experience without the burden of additional admin work for recruiters thanks to automated emails and workflows.

As face-to-face university recruitment is currently off the table, making sure the online experience lives up to expectations relies even more heavily on solid technology. There’s increased importance in giving candidates a taste of what life is like at your company, so rich media content in emails, an attractive career site and an easy and impressive application experience is a great way of putting your best foot forward.


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