What matters most in campus recruiting? A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found employers consider branding the most important part of their university recruiting programs. These employers know that if students don’t recognize the company at a career fair or aren’t excited by the brand, they are less likely to apply for a job or seek an internship with the organization. Here are the top ways to build your brand on college campuses, to stand out to soon-to-be grads.
Host information sessions
Hosting on-campus information sessions helps to raise awareness for your company among a targeted group of college students. Information sessions, often coordinated with the university career center, are an opportunity for employers to share details on open positions, organizational culture and unique information about the company and industry. Partner with career services to schedule a session and market it on social media, through career center communications and invite high-potential students you met at previous career fairs. Consider bringing an alumni of the school to share a new hire perspective, so students leave the session knowledgeable and excited about a potential career with your organization.
Build on-campus relationships
While career fair recruiting is essential to connect with students and introduce your organization, attending a once-per-year hiring event may not be enough to stay top-of-mind with college students. Instead, create relationships with students and faculty to build an ongoing presence on campus. Offer time and resources to student groups or sponsor club events to establish relationships with students who could be potential employees. If the school has a process to connect employers with faculty for classroom presentations, offer to share your company’s expertise. Students and professors will welcome the real-world case study and your organization will demonstrate industry leadership among a classroom of interested students.
Update career sites and job descriptions
Your company website stays current with new products and industry achievements; it’s important to do the same for your corporate career site. Students are on computers and mobile phones, and the career site is often the first place they visit to research your organization. Using your job board software, create a page focused on entry-level careers that offers a view inside your organization, and keep it up-to-date with information on company culture, growth opportunities and recent photos. If your job descriptions are recycled year after year, revisit positions with a fresh set of eyes to clearly emphasize the responsibilities and benefits of every role.
Respond to third-party reviews
Students get more than half of their information about an organization from sources that are not controlled by the company, reports talent management expert Dr. John Sullivan. That’s why monitoring and engaging on third-party review sites, like Glassdoor and Comparably, is now an essential part of an employer branding strategy. Respond to reviews, both positive and negative, in a timely manner. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, offer steps to address concerns and focus on positive company-led initiatives. Responding to reviews allows you to control the narrative—even on sites you don’t own.
Make personal connections
Offering a personal touch can differentiate your company and help you stand out among other employers. When the dean’s list is released, use talent relationship management software to send congratulatory emails to students you met at a previous career fair. Before finals, mail care packages to wish candidates good luck. Students may share these personal touches with friends and on social media, continuing to build your employer brand among a college student audience.
College students interact each day with peers in similar majors and organizations; capitalize on student networks to connect to a wider talent pool, and communicate your employer brand message to this group. At the conclusion of each internship, ask interns to share names of friends who may be interested in a role with the organization. Add these students to your talent community, even if they are only freshmen, and nurture them until they are ready to explore opportunities with your company. A student who is inexperienced now may qualify for a position in the future.
Create a year-round strategy
An on-campus employer branding strategy has no start or end dates; you must cultivate it throughout the year. While spring and fall are peak recruiting times, stay top-of-mind with college students year round by communicating unique company information through email campaigns, engaging with students on social media and hosting off-season events.
Don’t rely on word-of-mouth or a single career fair to grow your employer brand on campus. Incorporate these initiatives in your employer branding strategy to cultivate a pool of talent that is already engaged with your brand and excited about a potential career with your organization.