Turn Campus Hires (and Runners-up) into Referral Machines3 min read

September 21, 2018 Campus Recruiting

You did everything right. You trekked across the country to a never-ending list of campus career fairs, talked to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of students, collected resumes, conducted interviews and eventually brought a handful of standout candidates on board. That’s great! All done, right?



The students you hire — and even the ones you don’t — are sitting on a potential goldmine of referral candidates. Follow these steps to transform your campus hires and runners-up into finely tuned referral machines, multiplying the impact of your excellent recruiting efforts:

Treat yourself

Nearly 70 percent of companies are hiring new college graduates this year. And 44 percent increased their hiring of new college grads for the class of 2018. You’re almost certain to bring some rookies into your office this year, so why not make the most of their presence? Talk to them about fellow grads who might also enjoy working for your company. They will feel valued, and you will have a chance to reward yourself — with another strong candidate — for the hard work you put in recruiting them.

Get in the friend zone

Did you know fewer than 20 percent of today’s undergraduate students use their school’s career center for help with the job search? Instead, they simply talk to their friends and family, relying on personal networks to hook them up with job opportunities. Take advantage of that fact, and introduce yourself to the circle of friends around your new campus hires. If they trust their friend, they’ll trust you.

Don’t be content with your content

Generation Z consumes content like there’s no tomorrow, so be sure to make yours witty, useful and engaging. “A day in the life” blogs written by young staffers, Instagram Stories intern takeovers, or emails with a list of job tops are easy for your recent hires to share with their friends so they can #humblebrag about how amazing their new job is.

Find the other fish in the sea

In 2016, more than 40 percent of KPMG’s 500 campus referrals were students from schools at which the firm doesn’t recruit, and more than 10 percent of all referrals scored a job or an internship. Your campus hires likely know great people at other schools beyond their own — give them a chance to get to know your company, then ask if anyone in their orbit would fit in with your culture.

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Talk to everyone

A classic talent acquisition blog post by Dr. John Sullivan has a terrific list of people you should approach on campus for referrals: graduate assistants, student honor society presidents, exceptional and/or diverse students, your interns and recent college hires.  Missing from that list? The overlooked segment of student candidates you ultimately did not hire. As long as they had a positive candidate experience, they might be willing to refer their friends who could be a better fit. Keep them warm in your CRM — you never know when they might think of the perfect referral for you.

Empower your employees

Encourage newcomers to be ambassadors for your employer brand and watch the referrals roll in effortlessly with an employee referral program. One of the most cost-effective recruiting strategies around, employee referral programs makes it easy for new hires to recruit their friends and other recent grads. By offering incentives like referral bonuses to employees to recruit talented people they already know and trust, they’ll help speed up your time-to-hire and maybe pocket a few extra bucks in the process. Win-win.

Start implementing these bits of advice, and your best student hires could quickly become the gift that keeps on giving — and make all those campus career fairs feel a little more worthwhile.

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