On-campus recruiting is back — and according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, companies are pulling out all the stops to attract top talent.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of current job vacancies is at an all-time high. As of March 2022, there were 11.5 million roles (or roughly 7% of the labor force) that employers are increasingly desperate to fill. And while companies hired 6.3 million people in the past month, another 4.5 million quit their role — thereby hardly putting a dent in the country’s record-breaking job openings.
The result? University recruiters are taking a whatever-it-takes approach to ensure they have a cohort of early-career candidates to get the job done. Rather than follow the standard-issue recruiting fair approach, hiring managers are parking Teslas on campus, booking stadium presidential suites, and urging CEOs to give university lectures as a way to lure top talent to signing-on post-graduation.
Listen, we love the initiative (and creativity!) seen from university recruiting teams. But as Abode co-founder Ben Siegel puts it, you “can’t park a Tesla outside a library at Baylor University for a few hours and call that an engagement strategy.”
Because no matter how flashy your campus recruiting event, the fact of the matter is this: a campus recruiting event takes place over the course of one day. What happens during the weeks or months leading up to that candidate’s first day on the job? Below, we explore why even the most innovative recruiting events can fall flat if they’re not paired with an effective engagement strategy.
Why a Single University Recruiting Event Doesn’t Replace an Engagement Strategy
According to RippleMatch, nearly one-fifth (19%) of college students have reneged on an offer letter in 2022. And according to a survey by Abode, the vast majority — 86%, to be exact — openly state they’d back out on an offer if a better opportunity came their way.
Translation: Out-of-the-box recruiting events are great, but they won’t ensure your recruits stick with you through day one.
Why? According to Glassdoor, the average hiring process in the United States is 23.8 days — that is, if a candidate is already in the workforce. If you’re recruiting a current college student, the timeline from offer letter to onboarding could extend eight months to a full, calendar year. This leads to ample time for the student to explore — and accept — other opportunities.
Let’s return to the Wall Street Journal article for a second. As an example, the piece discusses a campus recruiting event held on April 1 at the University of Houston’s College of Education. Recruiting teams from 45 school districts gathered on campus to attract soon-to-be grads, offering six on-the-spot offer letters.
Assuming these six candidates will begin teaching September 1st, this leaves five months to research, interview, and ultimately entertain better offers from other districts. If you’re the recruiter in this scenario, how would you ensure your incoming cohort of candidates have completely halted their job search?
For starters, you won’t go radio silent on top talent the second after they sign on the dotted line. Instead, you’ll place each candidate into an effective keep-warm strategy to ensure they stay engaged with your company before, during, and after your company onboarding process begins.
You Held a Successful Recruiting Event — Now What? 3 Steps to Building a Keep-Warm Strategy
Turning up the “wow factor” at university recruiting events is great — but it won’t single-handedly help reduce your company renege rate. To ensure on-campus or virtual events are coupled with an effective engagement strategy, implement the following tactics:
1. Implement a Communication Cadence (Effective Immediately)
Here’s the number one mistake hiring managers make following a recruiting event: They halt all communication. Which begs the question: How are students supposed to know you’re invested in their career aspirations if they don’t hear from you for the two months following a signed offer letter?
Instead, recruiters should follow up with candidates immediately following a virtual or on-campus event. After hiring managers address any lingering questions, they should implement a communication frequency that correlates with a candidate’s unique journey. For example, if the candidate’s start date is four months away, implement a bi-weekly communication frequency (if longer, communicating every three weeks or once per month is probably sufficient). However, if you invite a candidate to interview with your company (rather than provide an on-the-spot offer letter), you’ll need to communicate on a weekly basis.
2. Offer Valuable Content — Not Just a “Touch Base”
According to Fast Company, the number one reason candidates ghost recruiters is because they “didn’t know where they stood” within the application process. This led over half (51%) to pursue other opportunities.
Sending two-sentence emails that read, “Just checking in!” does not qualify as an effective content strategy, nor does it help prepare candidates for the workforce. According to a recent Deloitte poll, 46% of Gen Zers feel anxious or stressed. To ease this tension, send candidates valuable content — such as reading lists, onboarding documents, or videos from their future manager — that can help prepare them for their upcoming role. Over-communicate throughout every stage in the candidate journey, so the applicant knows what to expect on day one on the job. To ensure no messages go unset, be sure to use an automation platform, like Abode, to engage with each member of your talent community.
3. Prove You’re Invested in Their Future
When it comes to today’s early-career candidates, you don’t need to worry about motivating them in the workplace. Instead, you should be more concerned about getting out of their way.
Over half (53%) of Gen Z students hope to run their own business someday. Once these candidates enter the workforce, that figure increases to a staggering 65%. Here’s what that tells you: Your incoming cohort is a group of driven, innovative individuals. If you want them to excel at your company, stop micromanaging them and look for ways for them to take the reins within their own careers.
Pair candidates with a trained mentor, suggest third-party certifications or courses to take, and get upper-level management involved with the incoming cohort. Ask your CEO or other executives to record a short video speaking directly to this year’s graduating seniors, discussing career advancement at your company.
Candidate Engagement Doesn’t Stop After a Successful Recruiting Event
Today, the War for Talent is fierce, causing university recruiters to leverage new tactics to attract top talent. And while we applaud recruiters for searching for new, ingenuitive ways to recruit candidates, we encourage everyone to remember one thing: After a successful recruiting event, the work is just beginning.
Sure, a parked Tesla might capture students’ attention on campus — but will it hold their attention over the next six months? To provide a better experience for top talent, you need to implement a candidate engagement strategy.
Using an automation platform, like Abode, you can keep candidates engaged from the first encounter, to day one on the job. Send valuable content, record videos from your executive team, and arrange meetups with future colleagues or mentors — all without going radio silent for the weeks following your recruiting event.