Campus recruiting is hectic and hyper-competitive. So what does it take to be a successful recruiter today — in the midst of a talent shortage, candidate ghosting and struggles with retention?

We turned to the experts to find out what essential skills all recruiters need to attract the attention of top student candidates, develop relationships, and help your organization stand out in a crowded field. Here’s what they had to say:

Skill #1: Be empathetic

For nervous students, choosing a career path and applying to jobs for the first time can be exhilarating but also stressful. Entering the workforce and leaving the college safety net is a big step, and recruiters who can empathize with students have a greater chance of building strong relationships with candidates. Your support will make a difference — Gen Z credits the relationships they form with recruiters as having the most significant impact on their decision to accept a job.

“Some of the greatest recruiters I have seen on my team have been people who truly care about the people that they’re helping. It’s one of the most important things in someone’s life is what their career is going to be, and the best recruiters know how to talk to [candidates], treat them like people, and then essentially get them the job they’ve always dreamed of.”

Sandy, Manager, Workforce Planning, health insurance company

Skill #2: Be open

As a campus recruiter, you’ll likely meet promising candidates that come with a catch — they have no professional experience. Finding students who may not have had an internship or any career-related work yet means campus recruiters need to be able to spot potential. Work with candidates to identify and translate what could be very valuable skills for your organization. Ask about projects they’ve completed in their classes, or what their hobbies are outside of school. You never know what you might uncover by asking the right questions.

“What inspires me most about my work—what gets me up in the morning, especially on rainy, crazy days—is the opportunity to be a career matchmaker. There’s nothing like talking to a sophomore or junior in college an connecting them to an internship or connecting them to a career that they maybe had no idea about.”

 Laneisha, University Relations Manager; electronics company

Skill #3: Be a risk-taker

You never know where you’re going to meet your next candidate, so it’s important for recruiters to get creative with their campus recruiting strategies. Find out-of-the box ways to delight candidates throughout the hiring process, personalize the experience and take a chance on non-traditional applicants.

“A good recruiter has to be someone who’s willing to take risks. Not just one recruiting strategy works anymore.”

Jylian, Head of Inclusive and Campus Recruitment Programs, packaged food company

Skill #4: Be analytical

The best campus recruiters are constantly searching for innovative ways to become more efficient, amplify their efforts, expand their reach, and maximize the ROI of their recruitment operations. Without the ability to look back on past efforts and identify areas for opportunity, innovation can be especially challenging.

To get the most from your campus recruitment strategy, collect data, establish metrics, and look back on what you’ve done to understand what to continue and how to improve.

“Treat candidates as if they’re worth money — because they are.”

Adam, SVP of Global Technology Solutions, RPO

We want to hear from you!

What did we miss? Let us know what skill you think every recruiter should have for the chance to be featured in an upcoming blog post! Share your thoughts here.