This is Part 1 of a two part post. Read post #2 here.
Issues with campus recruiting. Where do I start?
Last year, I graduated from a large public university and accepted a job offer after going through what felt like a torturous campus recruiting process. A lot of the frustration with the process stemmed from companies’ contrived efforts to reach “millennials.” In part one of this post, I’ll outline popular tactics that don’t resonate with graduating seniors and how instead millennials wished campus recruiters would interact with us. Enjoy!
A Little Background
First, let me qualify myself as a millennial.
- I pretend to be a wonderful multi-tasker
- I’m more comfortable texting than calling
- I can’t spell “millennial” without the help of autocorrect
In all seriousness, millennials are known for wanting purposeful and varied work. The transition into the working world is difficult as the previous 16+ years were dominated by a wide-ranging education. Graduating seniors must consider precisely what they want to be doing and exactly where they want to be doing it all in the final months of “the greatest four years of your life.”
When I graduated, I applied to over 40 positions before I finally found the right fit. This number may seem kind of high until you consider my close friend (and Ivy League grad) who kept an Excel document with every company to whom he applied. His final number? 152 applications.
Despite dedicated campus budgets and recruiting teams, companies allocate funds more to talent attraction and less to creating a fair and fast interview process. Certainly, there is a need for talent attraction, as feeling excited about your future employer is important before accepting a job offer. However, talent attraction efforts are often used too early in the process and not when the real convincing needs to take place.
The other critical issue with talent attraction on campus, and what we will focus on today are campus recruiting tactics that come off as super inauthentic.
These are 3 Recruiting Tactics That Your Campus Candidates Can’t Stand
Please, please, please no more cheap, colored wayfarers with your company’s name on the side. And nobody wants to wear an oversized tank top that has your logo on the front. Rather than leaving the career fair with a bag full of cheap “swag,” millennials would much prefer to leave with a good understanding of several companies and a few interviews set up for the next day.
If you are going to bring “swag,” more is not better. Rather than investing in a few cheap items, really consider what college students might find useful and just bring a lot of that one item. For example, the best piece of swag I ever got was coffee creamer (cheers to you, Coffee Mate.)
Fancy Events with No Follow-up
A very common talent attraction method which, if done incorrectly, can damage your employer brand is a swanky off-campus event. Look, no college student is ever going to turn down a free meal, especially if that meal is the most luxurious thing they’ve eaten since the last time their parents were in town. However, there are two main mistakes I’ve seen with dinners like these that come back to hurt companies.
The first is inviting candidates you aren’t seriously considering. If you invite 200 students to a fancy dinner in a banquet hall, but you can only consider 100 of them, all you are doing is crowding the field for the legitimate candidates. I went to one waterfront steakhouse dinner where candidates outnumbered actual employees at my table by 10-1. Hard to imagine that the top candidates didn’t feel turned off by the lack of exclusivity and having to battle for attention.
The second mistake is not having a next step after the swanky dinner. Hey, I might have been in that second group of 100 who the company wasn’t seriously considering, but I never had an interview after that dinner (I promise I didn’t eliminate myself by dancing on the tables). Like dating, candidates are more likely to speak negatively about the company that never called back after dinner than about the one who never invited them at all.
This is pretty similar to “swag” but still deserves more color. Yes, millennials use Snapchat, and yes, we are typically the driving force behind slang like “bae” or “noms.” But that does not mean we want that side of our lives involved also in our professional lives. Instead of trying to use technologies like Snapchat in a contrived way for recruiting, consider WHY we like these types of technologies. It’s the speed, the ease of use, and instant feedback. Those elements are more pertinent than the actual use of that technology.
With slang, just don’t try or you could turn out like this unfortunate Recruiter
The key point here is that trends are ephemeral. Even if you are just a few years out of college, you likely aren’t up-to-date and can embarrass yourself and company by trying to be.
Instead of trying to emulate 22-year old graduating seniors, attract young candidates by acting like someone we would want to be in 10-15 years, and prove how your company helped get you there. And give me a fair chance to prove how I could help your team, not sunglasses I will throw away later that day.