Five Ways to Finish Strong in Spring 2021 - A Guide for Campus Recruiters
By: Natalie Nygren
2020 is almost over (*heavy sigh of relief*). It’s been a rollercoaster year for everyone, and 2021 is sure to bring new challenges, changes, and (hopefully) triumphs.
Through all the craziness of 2020, one community in particular has been on our minds: college students. Students have been thrown into a variety of demanding situations, from classes and assignments online, to limited social interactions with friends, to a constant barrage of tough news, all taking a significant toll on their mental health.
On top of all that, students have also been tasked with finding jobs or internships, which is already a stressful feat without a raging pandemic and constant changes to day-to-day life like we’ve seen in 2020. In the past, students have relied heavily on interpersonal interactions with recruiters at career fairs, info sessions, or company-sponsored events, but this year, as we all know, put all of these helpful networking tactics on hold.
Instead, students have taken to job boards, direct email, webinars, and LinkedIn to tackle the stressful job search. In other words, they’re putting in the work!
While students have faced an array of challenges when it comes to internships and jobs, recruiters are facing similar challenges with networking, engagement, and connection: three key elements of any successful recruiting strategy. With career fairs forced online and offices closed for the long-haul, teams are having to pivot and pivot fast.
This Fall, we at Door of Clubs have worked closely with our partners to help them navigate this new world, and we’ve been impressed and inspired by their creativity as they aim to meet lofty recruiting goals with a limited toolbox of strategies.
That said, there’s always room for further development and growth, which is why we’ve compiled a few ideas that we think will get the ball rolling on some creative new strategies and programs for our current (and future!) recruiting partners. Our team and interns put their heads together for the best things recruiters can do this Spring to finish strong in their recruiting season, some inspired by things we’ve seen this Fall and some completely new.
Without further ado, we present: Five Ways to Finish Strong in Spring 2021.
1. Focus on the Relationship
As Spring rolls around and we start inching closer and closer to summer internship season, it’s tempting for recruiters to keep their eyes on the prize: filling positions and meeting deadlines. While those are definitely critical points to success, sometimes focusing on building a relationship first can be the most beneficial step.
Relationship-building messages can set you apart from other companies looking to recruit the same groups of students. They might also help you reach a larger group of students (like an entire student club, for example) instead of just a single person you contact to apply for an open position. Lastly, once a club or group knows you personally, it will set you up for success when the next recruiting cycle starts back up and make your job easier in the long term.
2. Make Room for Live Discussions
One of the most common challenges we’ve been hearing from students this Fall is that they miss live, interpersonal interactions with people. Group video chats, phone calls, and emails just don’t have the same effect as a one-on-one conversation, especially in the world of networking.
While we’ve seen a lot of companies create some amazingly engaging info sessions and webinars these past few months, students still feel they’re lacking the personal connections, the ability to ask relevant questions, and the learnings that come with in-person discussions.
Our advice? Keep doing the info sessions, but make them more personal. Incorporate a live Q&A, have smaller group discussions with like minded students, or even participate in some one-on-one career coaching. Or, even better, combine all of these strategies into one, impactful live event, like we’re helping companies launch with Collegiate ConnEX.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Social Media
Outside of LinkedIn, the recruiting world hasn’t really stepped into the world of social media. But why not? If you’re looking to hire students and young professionals, social media should be the first line of communication to reach this age group.
If you haven’t dipped your toe into social for your university recruiting strategy yet, there are a few ways to take a small step in the right direction with this new idea.
Maybe you create a new Instagram page to share resources, tips, tricks, employee stories, or CSR initiatives targeted toward students. Maybe you use your existing company account to find relevant student clubs at your core schools and send them a DM asking to connect with their student leaders. Or maybe you tap into the growing world of Tik Tok and have your recruiting team or employees talk candidly about their experience (or perhaps do an interpretive dance?).
4. Leverage Peer-to-Peer Influence
Some of the most impactful Fall programs on the marketing side of our agency this year have been Student Ambassador programs, where we find on-brand, passionate, and trustworthy students with significant social influence to represent our brand partners on their college campus.
Not only have these programs turned out some incredible and beautiful social media content (check out #LLBeanStudents, #BearpawUniversity, and #TimberlandOnCampus to see what we mean), but they have driven a variety of other KPIs for our brand partners, like research insights, product education, sales, and lead generation, all through the trust they’ve built among their peer networks.
Most Student Ambassador programs are based on physical products and place a high value on marketing or sales-based results, but student ambassadors can also support a company’s recruiting efforts by increasing awareness of the brand’s CSR initiatives, building a talent pipeline, connecting with organizations or clubs, and even becoming ideal candidates themselves.
5. Listen and Learn
While it may seem broad, taking the time to listen to students will ultimately build trust and loyalty that will bring long-term value to your recruiting team. If you’re not sure where to start, conducting a survey with your target audience can be a fantastic way to learn, adapt, and even generate leads this Spring.
Figure out exactly what you want to know about these students. Maybe you want to know how they feel about the brand’s diversity and inclusion programs, maybe you care more about gathering some feedback on your email newsletters, or maybe you’d like to know where students are going in their job search within your industry.
Not only will you get some fantastic data points and real insights from students by conducting a survey, but students will get to learn more about your company, share their info, and feel like they’re being listened to, as well.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with the final stretch of the craziest recruiting season we’ve seen? We’d love to support you! Whether you’re a current partner looking for something fresh or a potential partner looking to learn more, our team is ready to help.