Each May provides an opportunity for hiring professionals to reach into a new, untapped market of talent: college graduates. While many new grads hope to have a job lined up right off the bat, over half will go unemployed come graduation.
Many companies overlook college graduates as potential recruits and instead focus on candidates with years of experience. However, college graduates provide an excellent opportunity for companies to add fresh talent to their teams who they can shape into seasoned professionals. Here’s how to get started in your recruitment efforts.
Be flexible with hiring requirements
Most candidates coming out of college aren’t going to have years of experience to boast. Instead, they might have had one or two relevant positions, though none may fit with the requirements in your job description.
To best target college students, dig deep into your open roles and reframe job requirements to best reflect the skill set of new graduates. What are some key skills the candidate must have, and what others can be learned over time?
There are other ways to measure candidacy than a simple number of years in the field. Instead, look at what activities students got involved with outside of class. Do any of these activities align with what you’re looking for in a potential candidate?
Internships, volunteer experience and extracurriculars such as clubs or sports can tell you a lot about the candidate, who might turn out to be one of your more successful hires in the long run.
Prioritize campus interaction
Universities do a great job of connecting students with potential employers, meaning little work for HR professionals. Whether through career services or scheduled events such as a career fair, colleges and universities put a lot of emphasis on post-graduation success. Connecting with career offices gives companies the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with students and introduces students to entry-level roles.
Create a list of nearby schools and reach out to inquire about upcoming events. Most schools tend to schedule career events toward the beginning or the end of the semester, so make sure your hiring calendar aligns with the schools’ timelines. Having a consistent on-campus presence and a long-term relationship with nearby colleges and universities can go a long way toward attracting students to your company.
Be active on social media
It might seem strange for prospective candidates to be stalking a company on social media, but it happens more often than you’d think. Gen Z is increasingly using social media to look up companies they’re hoping to work for, and companies with an updated profile and a consistent posting cadence are attractive to them.
Your profiles don’t have to be much. Something as simple as a LinkedIn page or a company Twitter feed will show prospective candidates that your company is modern and willing to keep up with what’s important to them.
Reframe company culture
Transitioning from school to a full-time job can be intimidating for new graduates, who are coming from a campus filled with like-minded peers. Integrating graduates into your team means more than just throwing them into the mix and hoping everything works out.
Determine what types of activities are important to new graduates, and incorporate relevant interaction into your onboarding strategy. Having built-in ways for new hires to get to know others in the company will help new graduates feel more comfortable transitioning into full-time positions after college.
Targeting recent graduates is a great way to add fresh talent to your team. HR professionals should engage college students by attending campus events, building and engaging on social media, and creating an appealing company culture. By targeting college students in your recruitment process, your company has the opportunity to watch as new graduates develop into true professionals.
Matt Thomas is the president of Indianapolis-based WorkSmart Systems Inc., which he founded in 1998. He is active with the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) and has dedicated more than 20 years to the PEO industry dating back to his early career with industry leaders ADP and NovaCare Employee Services.