Whether you’ve been a campus recruiter for decades or you’re just starting out, this comprehensive guide offers an overview of the campus recruitment landscape, plus helpful tips for boosting your university recruitment efforts. We’ve had a long stretch of a booming economy. We’re experiencing record-low unemployment and the implementation of artificial intelligence and automation. Millennials are now the largest demographic in the workplace, with Gen Z on their heels. There’s no doubt that our workplace is shifting—and rapidly. With all of these monumental changes, employers are faced with evolving their recruiting, hiring, retention, and promotion practices, and recruiting young talent is more important than ever.

According to Aptitude Research Partners, approximately 70% of employers will be hiring college graduates this year. To keep up with the competition and find qualified candidates, employers need to meet students and graduates where they are — on college and university campuses.

Let’s dig into the whys and hows of campus recruitment. What is Campus Recruitment?

Campus recruitment is a strategy for sourcing, engaging and hiring young talent for internship and entry-level positions. Campus recruitment is typically a tactic for medium- to large-sized companies with high-volume recruiting needs, but can range from small efforts (like working with university career centers to source potential candidates) to large-scale operations (like visiting a wide array of colleges and attending recruiting events throughout the spring and fall semester). Campus recruitment often involves working with university career services centers and attending career fairs to meet in-person with college students and recent graduates. Some industries participate in campus recruiting more than others; finance, technology, business consulting, manufacturing and engineering are a few of the most popular.

Why Should You Recruit on Campus?

Campus recruitment can benefit your organization’s hiring strategy in several ways. Entry-level positions are often the hardest to fill, and the talent shortage is the top emerging risks for companies globally. This challenge means more employers are recruiting directly from college campuses, where a large talent pool is preparing for their first post-grad jobs. For companies with high-volume recruiting needs, building a campus recruitment strategy is one of the most meaningful ways to compete for potential candidates.

Recruiting on campus also offers easy access to the youngest generation of talent. Gen Z workers make up about 12.6% of the workforce, as of 2023, and typically earn about $32,500 annually. This digital-native generation is likely to have a significant impact on your organization. With a thriving understanding of technology, Gen Z is motivated by meaningful work and the opportunity to develop their professional skills. Campus recruitment is the best way to tap into this new generation of talent.

Beyond the ability to quickly and efficiently build a network of young talent on campus, university recruitment is also proven to impact your business well beyond the moment you make an offer. Aptitude Research Partners found that companies using campus recruiting technology were three times more likely to improve retention, two times more likely to improve engagement and two times more likely to improve productivity.

Why should you recruit on campus?

What Does a Campus Recruiter Do?

Campus recruiters search for talent at college campuses, traveling to schools across the country to meet young, energetic talent. Sounds fun, huh? Beyond traveling and connecting with students, campus recruiters’ primary purpose is to source, attract, and ultimately hire top talent.

A campus recruiter’s job responsibilities are wide-ranging and can vary depending on the season. To source potential candidates, campus recruiters are responsible for forming relationships with university career services centers to connect with students and plan on-campus information sessions and career fair appearances.

College recruiters are often also tasked with recruitment marketing initiatives, building a student communication plan and on-campus employer brand. Perhaps most importantly, campus recruiters work with hiring managers to conduct interviews, evaluate candidates and extend job offers.

Like any position, a campus recruiter salary can vary. However, the average campus recruiter salary is about $71,000 annually. These average compensation numbers include base salary, bonus, commission, and profit-sharing. Of course, the compensation package, including benefits offered, will vary from employer to employer.

What do campus recruiters do?

How Do You Build a Campus Recruiting Team?

There’s no doubt that campus recruiting is crucial to your hiring practices. But how do you build a campus recruiting team?

Like any project, you need to have a plan in place before running to college campuses. Determine your organization’s goals for hiring. Do you need undergraduate students? Are you searching for specific skills, such as computer programming or financial analysis? Look at your company’s geography as well. Are you recruiting for your Chicago office, or for offices across the Midwest, or is your company remote? By answering a few questions, you can then determine who needs to be on your campus recruiting team.

Once you nail down some basics, decide which employees and leaders need to be on the team. Do you need a small team of people in Chicago or do you also need people in St. Louis and Kansas City? Which employees will serve key roles, such as a director of campus recruiting, and which will serve in support roles? How are those roles defined?

Once you align on your team and their responsibilities, create a plan to address how your multi-employee team will be managed. Which employees travel to universities and colleges? Which employees stay behind to manage the fort? At which schools will you recruit, either in person, through technology, or both? How will you gather the students’ information, such as resumes and applications, in a place where your team can have access?

By empowering your employees with recruitment software, you can more seamlessly organize not only your team but also your hiring process.

How can you build a campus recruiting team?

Like any position, a campus recruiter salary can vary. However, the average campus recruiter salary is about $71,000 annually. These average compensation numbers include base salary, bonus, commission, and profit-sharing. Of course, the compensation package, including benefits offered, will vary from employer to employer.

College Recruitment Strategies

Most students attend college classes during fall and spring semesters, with some knocking out courses during summer sessions. However, for campus recruiting, there is no semester break. To broaden your talent pool while attracting high-caliber candidates, college recruitment strategies must focus on student engagement year-round.

Here are the basic components of any campus recruitment strategy:

Know your audience

With Gen Z entering the workforce for the first time, you may need to adjust your recruiting strategy. Simply put, tactics that attract millennial college students may not work with Gen Z. Gen Z has a unique set of expectations for their relationship with their recruiter, level of engagement throughout the hiring process, and job tenure once they’ve started with your company.

Build a talent community

A great campus recruitment strategy starts with candidate sourcing. Build a talent pipeline before you step foot on campus by reaching out to the career center. Ask for a list of students that might be interested in your company and invite them to join your talent community. Engage soon-to-be college graduates by sending regular communications about open entry-level positions, share key insights on your organization’s internship program, or let them know when you’ll be on campus for their university’s career fair.

Another great way to source young talent is through referrals from other recent college grads. Tap current interns or entry-level employees at your company to fill open roles, and ask them to invite their friends to join your talent community for future hiring updates.

Connect on campus

While technology has made it easier to stay in touch with students throughout the year, having a physical presence on campus is still important, especially because Gen Z candidates rank face-to-face interactions high on their list of preferred communication channels.

Make sure students show up when you’re on campus by developing a communication plan for before, during and after career fairs, and use the messaging channels that are most popular for Gen Z. Maximize your hiring event success by making sure your team is prepared with the tools and talking points they need. Reinvent your employer information sessions to build more engaging relationships with students.

Stay in touch throughout the year

It’s tempting to assume campus recruitment has two seasons: fall, when students arrive back on campus, and spring, when they’re getting ready to graduate. But just because it may seem like there’s a lull in college students‘ schedules doesn’t mean your recruiting strategy should screech to a halt. Keep recruiting throughout the year by touching base often, sharing compelling content, and investing in a digital campus recruitment strategy.

Make your hiring process more efficient

Use recruitment events software to attract young talent. Target potential candidates through email marketing campaigns, evaluate candidates using objective assessment criteria and metrics based on what your company needs as well as the position itself, and automate your interview scheduling.

Measure your efforts

Measure the success of your recruiting strategies through your software as well. Recruiting software provides valuable feedback to hiring managers, whether it measures the number of hires from a specific recruiting event or the number of emails opened during an email marketing campaign. Through these analytics, employers can determine where they need to improve or continue knocking it out of the park when it comes to recruitment and retention.

Meet your campus recruiting goals with these strategies.

Budgeting for Campus Recruitment

When building your campus recruiting team, it’s important to mind your dollars and cents. With employees spending most of their time recruiting on campus, the cost of travel and lost productivity can hit your business hard without a budget strategy. However, campus recruiting is possible even for organizations with a limited budget.

When creating (or modifying) your campus recruitment budget, start with a clearly defined strategy. Understand your company’s needs.

What is your current cost-per-hire, and how could you improve it by recruiting on campus? Are you pursuing undergraduates or graduate or doctoral students? Who from your company will attend recruiting events? A junior or senior employee? How will you deck out your recruiting booth? Giving away any swag?

These are just some questions employers should consider when creating their campus recruitment budget. Remember, plan early and plan often.

Save these campus recruiting budgeting basics.

How to Execute a Successful Campus Recruiting Event

70% of companies are recruiting on campus, which means pressure is mounting to stand out at career fairs and recruitment events. Here are some recruiting event ideas to consider:

Download the campus recruitment events checklist

Build your campus recruiting events around goals and objective criteria.  Not only will this help you fill any immediate needs you may have, but it will also allow you to develop a relationship with both the students and the schools, creating an executable and successful college recruiting program.

What is Campus Recruiting Software?

Recruiting on campus is one of the best ways to connect with qualified candidates — but if your recruitment event processes involve spreadsheets, tedious administrative tasks, and manual reporting, campus recruitment software can help.

Here are 4 steps on what to look for in a software for early talent recruiting: 

1. Automate Candidate Management 

Look for robust CRM and automation capabilities like candidate rediscovery, segmented pipelines, and multi-touch campaigns. This allows you to track candidates through their lifecycle and communicate effectively.

2. Simplify Interview Scheduling

Ensure the software has interview scheduling features like bulk scheduling to streamline coordinating interviews. This saves time compared to manual scheduling.

3. Analyze Data for Insights

Verify the software provides detailed analytics and reporting to measure ROI over each hiring season. Use data like application rates, event conversions, and hiring metrics to refine your strategy.

4. Mitigate AI Bias

Carefully evaluate any AI capabilities to avoid unintended bias. AI can help with administrative tasks but should not fully replace human decision-making in the hiring process. Monitor recommendations.

Build your campus recruiting events around goals and objective criteria. Not only will this help you fill any immediate needs you may have, but it will also allow you to develop a relationship with both the students and the schools, creating an executable and successful university recruitment program.

How to Improve Your Internship Program

By now, most companies have some form of intern program. But is yours as strong as it could be? Here are our top suggestions to improve internship program return on investment:

  • Be selective
  • Be supportive in the office (and beyond)
  • Hold them accountable
  • Play up the culture
  • Offer flexible work options
  • Create an intern-specific referral program
  • Schedule regular check-ins
  • Conduct exit interviews

How to Engage a New Generation of Students

Recruiting is different for each generation, and Generation Z is no exception. To create a compelling college recruiting program, employers need to understand their audience. Learning how to recruit the youngest generation is key to not only implementing a successful hiring strategy but also attracting top talent.

Fast Hiring Process

Nearly 20% of Gen Zers expect a job offer just 1 week after an initial phone screen. They want the hiring process to move quickly from application to offer.

Mobile-Friendly Application

With 46% applying for jobs on their phones, Gen Z demands a smooth mobile application experience. Over half won’t complete applications that aren’t mobile-optimized.

Strong Recruiter Relationships

Gen Z values face-to-face interaction and ranks their relationship with the recruiter as highly influential in job decisions.

Meaningful Work

More than other generations, Gen Z prioritizes meaningful work. They rank job duties and responsibilities as a top factor in accepting or declining an offer.

Flexible Work Options

Gen Z expects to frequently change jobs, so flexibility is key. They want options like remote work and hybrid schedules.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

DEI priorities influence Gen Z’s perceptions of employers. They want to see thoughtful, comprehensive DEI recruiting strategies.

Campus Recruitment Metrics and ROI

Measuring the effectiveness of your campus recruiting is key to the growth and development of your hiring efforts. Understanding your campus recruiting KPIs, such as time-to-hire and cost-per-hire, will allow you to understand your successes while identifying areas that need improvement through an objective lens.



Source more candidates

  • Talent pool size
  • Events attended
  • Source of hire
  • Job application completion rate

Improve candidate quality

  • Qualified candidates per hire
  • Number of qualified candidates per recruiting event
  • Number of qualified candidates per college

Improve candidate engagement

  • Candidate points of contact
  • CRM responsiveness
  • Social media engagement

Speed up the recruitment process

  • Time to hire
  • Length of every step in the hiring process

Reduce recruiting costs

  • Time to hire
  • Cost per hire

Reduce turnover

  • Retention rate
  • Vacancy rate
  • Employee reviews

“Talent acquisition is quite literally our business. Any time we’re not operationally excellent, that’s money that’s gone.”

Adam Godson, SVP of Global Technology Solutions, Cielo*

Source: #STRIVE19, The ROI of Recruiting Ops

According to an Aptitude Research Partners study, employers who recruit on campus are 3x more likely to improve retention, and 2x more likely to improve engagement and productivity. However, only 30% of companies have processes in place to measure their recruiting efforts, allowing them to capture this success.

To capture data, provide transparency, improve the candidate experience, and understand the impact on ROI, implement reporting processes that help your team streamline your recruiting efforts while making more informed hiring decisions. The more you know, the better your results.

Not sure what metrics to track? Think about your organization’s hiring goals. Are you looking to fill open positions more quickly? Do you want to establish a better employer brand on campus? Are you hoping to reduce hiring costs? Knowing what’s most important to your team will help you determine what to include in your reporting and analytics.

Learn more about how to measure your campus recruiting efforts