Establishing a strong employer brand not only helps students recognize your company on campus, but builds excitement for the open roles at your organization. Here’s how to make your company stand out with an effective employer branding strategy and campus recruitment approach.

What matters most in campus recruiting? A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers says it’s employer branding. 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 and stand out to soon-to-be grads.

Host information sessions

Hosting on-campus information sessions raises awareness for your company among a targeted group of college students. Information sessions, often coordinated with the university career center, are an opportunity to share details on open positions, organizational culture and unique information about your company and industry.

But with so many companies competing for talent, it can be challenging to attract students and increase attendance. Think about how to reinvent your information session to be more creative, interactive, and targeted to Gen Z’s job search expectations as part of your employer branding strategy. Spread the word on social media, through career center communications and by inviting potential candidates in your talent pipeline.

Build on-campus relationships

While career fair recruiting is essential, attending a once-per-year hiring event may not be enough to stay top-of-mind with college students—and it’s not always easy to get them to attend in the first place. Instead, maintain ongoing relationships with students and faculty throughout the year as part of your campus recruitment and employer branding strategy. Offer time and resources to student groups or sponsor club events to meet 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 career site is the first place students visit to research your organization, and it’s one of the best places to showcase your employer brand. Create a stand-out careers page focused on entry-level roles that offers a view inside your organization. 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 them to make sure they’re optimized for Gen Z job seekers as part of your campus recruitment and employer branding strategy.

Respond to third-party reviews

According to the 2022 State of Campus Recruiting, 81% of Gen Z candidates are finding jobs online—which means they’re also likely reading your company’s third-party reviews. That’s why monitoring 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 recruitment CRM 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.

Nurture referrals

College students interact each day with peers in similar majors and organizations. Capitalize on student networks to connect to a wider talent pool. At the end of each internship, ask interns to share the names of friends who may be interested in a role within your 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 digital strategy

An on-campus employer branding strategy has no start or end dates. 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 and text, engaging with students on social media. Launching a digital campus recruitment strategy makes it possible to stay connected to students and fill talent pipelines with the next generation of talent. Recruiting technology enables you to source, attract and engage candidates, even without an on-campus presence.

Leverage Alumni Networks:

Your company’s alumni network can be an invaluable asset in your campus recruitment strategy. Engaging with successful former employees who have graduated from the same institution can significantly enhance your employer brand. Alumni often have a strong emotional connection to their alma mater and can serve as powerful brand advocates, sharing their positive experiences and success stories within your organization. Encourage alumni to participate in networking events, mentorship programs, or even offer internships to current students. By showcasing these success stories and fostering connections between alumni and current students, you can build a sense of community and trust that enhances your employer brand and attracts top talent.

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 and campus recruitment approach to cultivate a pool of talent that is already engaged with your brand and excited about a potential career with your organization.