How to Recruit College Students on Campus for Your Small Business

Thu, Mar 22, 2012


You want the best and brightest employees possible for your business, and on campus recruiting may be a great opportunity for your company. People often think that you have to represent a massive, international corporation to successfully recruit on campus, but that’s just not the case. Though you may not be able to offer the salaries and bonuses of an Apple or Google, that doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects to working for your company that would appeal to recent graduates. You simply need to find your own niche to compete with the big boys, and it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are a few strategies for recruiting college students on campus for your business.

Focus on your strengths. One of the main strengths you could provide over a large corporation is significant room for employee growth. Start-ups operate in a world of excitement and possibility, and new candidates may find the opportunities for their own career growth and experience preferable over a similar position in a much bigger company. Teams working on a project are much smaller, and each member has significantly more input. Also, the turnaround time on a project tends to be much shorter, so employees see the benefits of their work more quickly than at a massive company. Students just entering the workforce are looking for opportunities to boost their resume, and your company can offer that. It’s your job to find the right way to communicate this inherent difference to the students you recruit.

Work past your company’s anonymity. Okay, so maybe your brand is a bit obscure. So how do you get prospective recruits excited about a product they may never have heard of before? Focus your efforts on the students who quickly grasp what your company is about and can communicate a clear vision of their potential role on the team. If you can get them engaged through excitement and openness, they’re much more likely to come back to you. Remember, your company has the time to focus in on a smaller group of recruits, as opposed to a massive organization that is overwhelmed with potential applicants. So make them feel special, and it won’t much matter if they’ve heard of you before. Get involved on campus outside of job fairs, and focus in on the programs and groups that are most perfectly aligned with your company.

Be creative. Since you don’t have the size or financial weight to throw around, use your inherent creativity to draw in new hires. Sponsor events, speak at student meetings and get involved with alumni networks. Most large companies won’t go this far, and you’ll separate yourself from the pack with your involvement. Create contests and link in with social networks. The more engaging you can make your brand, the more students will begin to see themselves in the opportunity you provide.

Make them meet you half way. You want new recruits to understand that employee happiness is a priority at your company, but you don’t have the resources to throw at co-workers that the big boys have. Well, lucky for you the game is much more about making employees feel at home than showering them with riches. Culture is all about how you treat people, and that is not necessarily tied to money. Offer internships that give them an opportunity to see your culture in action. You get to continue the recruiting process, while having an additional opportunity to check out their work ethic. And think about what you can provide outside of huge salaries. Can you help employees continue their education? Letting an employee know you care about their future by helping them pay for a masters in criminal justice, for example, may go a lot further than sponsoring expensive company vacations.

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