How to Evaluate Students Who Have No Professional Experience3 min read

March 26, 2019 Campus Recruiting

Evaluating college students looking for their first real-world job can be a challenge for campus recruiters. Follow this guide to review student candidates who may not have professional experience.

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Campus recruiters charged with evaluating students for entry-level roles encounter a wide range of student candidates. Some resumes boast multiple relevant internships, while others focus on a college athletic career or leadership in a student club.

That brings up a popular question: how do you evaluate students who don’t have professional experience? Read on for strategies to evaluate student candidates.

Let students show their abilities

There’s only so much you can tell about a person from their resume—especially if that person hasn’t had a full-time position yet. Sometimes, the only way to truly and fairly evaluate a candidate with no experience is to give them a shot. Invite them to record a video interview and allow them to show you why they’re the best candidate rather than tell you with bullet points on a resume.

Evaluate schoolwork like it’s their job

Smart students will list relevant coursework and classroom projects on their resume in lieu of professional experience. If they don’t, ask them about it at the next campus career fair. What kind of research did they focus on? Why did they choose that major? What skills were required to collaborate effectively with classmates? How successful were their presentations? Did they work on projects that are directly relevant to the job requirements? College coursework can be demanding, so don’t discount a candidate because they “only” have classroom experience.

How do they use their free time?

Students are usually involved in all sorts of non-academic activities that can influence how they might perform in a professional setting, and can give you a good indication of the candidate’s values and interests. For example, a student who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity on weekends may have developed strong teamwork and leadership skills while honing an ability to solve complex problems. A runner on a college cross country team might have discipline and a strategic mindset that will be assets in an office setting.

What built-in advantages do they have?

Some young candidates have job skills they don’t even realize. Maybe they’ve been trilingual for their entire life, never thinking of it as something they should feature on a job application or they’ve honed artistic skills that could be an asset to your team. Successful campus recruiters look beyond work experience to uncover hidden qualities.

Match skills and abilities to the JD

Let the job description be your guide. If you approach the search through a lens of the specific job’s requirements, it will be much easier to see how a resume item like ‘summer camp counselor’ could apply to a role, while also preparing the candidate for future potential leadership roles. In an ideal situation, the student will organize her resume by job requirements rather than experience, giving you tailored examples showing what they’ve done that has prepared them for each line-item on your job description.

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