An Unrecruited Pool of Candidates Lies All Around You: Here are 6 Tips on Tapping It

A significant percentage of college graduates spend the first few years after graduation in a sort of never-never land. Rather than seek a job right away, they debate between graduate school and employment, or both part time. Some may just enjoy the relative freedom for a while. After a few months most of them are ready to find a job and move on, yet this talented group of potential candidates goes pretty much unrecruited. Just this week I have been approached by two fathers of recent grads who, because they weren’t sure what they wanted to do, failed to actively seek jobs during their senior years. Now they are out in the cold world of job seeking without the skills to do it well. They submit resumes endlessly to company after company and get the postcard thanking them. They rarely land an interview. They don’t really know how to target their searches, or make calls, or build networks. Yet, they are graduates of great schools and have majored in areas that are heavily sought after. One of these students has a double degree – one in fine arts (including web design) and the other in biology from a top 10 school! They are smart, presentable and are now more than ready to join the work world and contribute. They don’t mind travel or relocating. They are not seeking sing-on bonuses or special benefits. They just want meaningful jobs. What surprises me is that no company that I am aware of has a program to attract these people. By offering a bit of career counseling (maybe an hour with a recruiter who understands this level of candidate), many of them could be recruited at bargain salaries and with little hassle. So how to go about finding and attracting them? Here are a half dozen ideas of how you can do yourself and them a huge favor.

  1. Put out the word among your employees that you are looking for new grads with majors in whatever fields you are seeking. Probably many employees have a friend or neighbor with a child who fits this category and who might be interested in an informational interview.
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  3. Offer informational interviews or mini-career counseling opportunities. Advertise these in the local paper and on your web site. Put up simple and cheap flyers in local bookstores, coffee shops or wherever you think these new grads might hang out. Spread the word in whatever way works in your community.
  4. Offer some basic training to encourage them to get to know you and you to know them. You may find that some simple training classes serve two purposes: they get a candidate up to speed to be a productive employee and they give you the chance to check out the work skills, personalities and other characteristics of these potential hires.
  5. Run a series of articles in local papers or on your web site about how to locate and interview for that first job. Show them how to translate life experience into work-equivalent experience and how to interview. Offer them a “instant interview’ if they call a special number you set up. Make sure the interviewers are ready to deal with some scared, confused and sometimes slightly turned off recent grads because of their negative job hunting experiences.
  6. Hold an open house for the undecided and uncommitted. Offer some realistic job previews, have key employees on hand to tell about what they do, give a tour of your facility if appropriate. The goal here is to show these potential employees what it would be like to work for you and who their fellow employees would be.
  7. And, finally, sell this concept to management. I know it is often difficult to get senior people to understand that we all mature at different rates and just because we weren’t ready for a job on the day we graduated, we may be now or will be soon. The costs are minimal, the effort minor compared to the travel and work involved in campus recruiting, and the payoff can be huge. These grads will be grateful and pleased with the opportunity!

This is a well-educated, low cost, and very needy group of people who, with a little encouragement and enticement, would make super employees. Give it a try.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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