How Effective is Your College Recruiting Effort? Do You Really Know?

What makes your college recruiting function a success? Very simply, it should be getting as many hires into your organization as needed who excel over time and become the star managers, inventors, scientists, programmers, or whatever of your firm. In order to accomplish this on a regular and predictable basis, two things are required. The first is to know what is and is not working with your web site on campus, in the interviewing process, in the offer process, and in the assimilation and development of the people you hire. To do this you need to measure and survey everything and everybody. The second thing you need is to track these results over a significant period of time – at least 3 years, and hopefully more. A system or a process is required to do these two things. It is only fair for a recruiter to provide this. As I work with clients, I often ask for the facts: the statistics and measurements that will tell me how well they are doing or where they need some help. Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 will have anything resembling a comprehensive set of data. Most have anecdotes (which can be useful) and spotty data. They all know how many they hired, which is a good thing, but not many know if the hiring managers are really satisfied or what the students thought of their recruiting experience. One suggestion I often give to recruiting groups is to team up with some function in your organization that is good at establishing process and at tracking things. This may be your financial folks, your manufacturing Personnel, or the people in the quality function. It doesn’t matter who, just that you establish clear metrics and procedures to gather and report those metrics on a regular basis. By doing this you will have laid the foundation for a program that can be continuously improved, and you will have made an ally with this other department. Often when you team up like this, you gain credibility because it appears that a neutral party is tracking how well you do. If we ever hope to have our recruiting efforts respected, we need to develop the discipline that other functions mastered long ago. We have to accept responsibility and face up to the things we can be held accountable for. The best way is to propose our won measures and not wait for others to impose them on us. One company in the San Francisco Bay Area has started something that I hope catches on and becomes popular. As a first effort at establishing what really works in recruiting, a San Francisco company called has published a report called “The Student Recruitment Report, 1999: Understanding the Student Perspective.” surveyed well over 300 students at dozens of undergraduate and graduate schools in the United States. Part of the survey was a quantitative survey distributed over the Internet. The second part consisted of 22 in-depth telephone interviews with a sampling of the students who had participated in the quantitative study. The results are interesting (a few findings are quoted below) but what makes this even more valuable is that you can now benchmark your own surveys and findings against these. My understanding is that they will continue to produce updates and offer an on-going look into the thought process of students. KEY FINDINGS

  • A challenging job, good training and good colleagues were important factors in deciding to work for a particular company. These factors outweighed all economic factors.
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  • While salary was cited as extremely important, other benefits such as retirement plans, bonuses and stock options were less important.
  • Most of the students preferred to work for loosely structured, collaborative and team-oriented companies with a decentralized leadership model.
  • While the Internet is emerging as a helpful tool in the job search, students said that discussion with friends; alumni and company employees were the most helpful.
  • Students have high expectations for the web sites of the companies they interview with and they find these sites lacking in content and navigation.
  • One negative experience with an employer can outweigh many positive experiences.

Two Stanford University students founded about 5 years ago. Their first product was an insider’s guide to various companies for prospective job seekers. Many college students, not being knowledgeable about the cultures of different companies or what it was really like to work for a particular company, snapped up these books. Soon even professional job seekers wanted them. Since then, they have added all sorts of other research projects to their services. You can contact them at 415-284-7900 and also through their web site The companies that have excellent and successful college recruiting programs have built them over time, carefully, and spend considerable time maintaining relationships and improving what they do on campus. Their real challenge, as is everyone else’s, lies in adapting to the Internet. How well we measure the way people use our web sites, the better we will be able to make them the powerful tools they can be. Good luck as you enter this final semester of recruiting!

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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