University Recruiting: Connecting Digital and On-Campus Marketing to Attract Young Talent

April 23, 2013

When it comes to attracting new university graduates, traditional marketing techniques such as college fair booths don’t resonate with students the way they used to. In fact, less than half of college seniors plan to attend campus fairs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.[1] But that doesn’t mean that students don’t want that personal connection with you!

While students may not be thinking about career options in their early years, the tides turn very quickly to internships and jobs, especially for those in sought-after fields of study. The ratio of graduates to opportunity necessitates that employers start marketing their brand early and often.

To connect with top university talent, companies should take an employer branding tip from companies such as Target and American Eagle and merge their digital and street-level (event-based) marketing. For example, at UNC Chapel Hill, Target ambassadors treat buses of freshman to a trip to the nearby Super Target store in an event that has been dubbed a “touchstone party”. [2] These social “on the ground” and “experiential” touchpoints mirror the social composition of their college recruiting website, where social media is integrated into the user experience. Connection on the ground connects well with Target’s College Recruiting website.

Moreover, the current and coming generation of new professionals entering the workforce care more about what classmates, mentors, and alumni think than what type of swag you're offering at college fairs. As they do on Amazon and Netflix, students have the advantage of data-driven insights into career outcomes and algorithms that are constantly at work pushing new options to them - options like working at your company.

All of this creates fleeting consideration options online. The key to your college recruitment strategy is enhancing these digital moments with compelling events and face-to-face interactions that create a full experience for students – not a one-sided pitch. Think “backstage moments” versus the annual “booth setup.”

To learn more, consider participating in our live broadcast on April 25 where @cecilearsan and I [@linkedinrob] will be talking about 5 specific ways to cultivate relationships with and hire students and recent graduates. Use #hiretowin to join in with your questions and comments.

[1] NACE Research: 2011-12 Career Services Benchmark Survey