Virtual College Recruiting, Part 2

Note: Please take the short survey on recruiting trends from my recent article. The whole process will take you less than 10 minutes, and I will report on the results in future columns. If you have already completed the survey, thanks and please don’t take it again. Last week I began making a case for moving college recruiting from an on-campus activity to a virtual one with a greater reach and scope. Many of activities in our lives have begun to be intermediated by technology. Whether that technology is the telephone, email, a website, a recorded message, or a semi-intelligent “agent” that recognizes the numbers and names we speak on the phone, we are increasingly dealing with technology to get things done. Baby boomers for the most part expect that they will deal with a person and have an opportunity for conversation and face-to-face contact. They find technology to be impersonal and uncomfortable ó not something we should use extensively for recruiting. On the other hand, our children and younger friends expect to deal with technology. They find it efficient, useful, and free from the prejudices often associated with face-to-face contact (we are all the same in the eyes of technology). All of this is why virtual recruiting makes a lot of sense for a college program. Student attitudes are in synch with the methodology of virtual recruiting, the technology for it is widely available on campus, and students have the tools and skills they need to participate. In my column last week I outlined the first step in getting a virtual college program off the ground. I mentioned that you need to determine which kinds of students you are after and then build a website that is attractive to them. But once you have built that great website, how do you get the word out to students to come to it? Marketing the Virtual College Program Getting access to college students is not too hard. Almost all of them have email addresses and most are used to screening and responding to email on a regular basis. There are a number of ways you can gather these address:

  • Ask all your current employees for the email addresses of students they know.
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  • Ask students you currently have contact with to refer others to you. Use a tool such as Jobster to help.
  • Create a corporate social network using LinkedIn or Spoke. Perhaps have a recent college hire kick this off by inviting his or her friends to join the network.
  • Ask the campus placement office to distribute an email for you.
  • Ask campus professional associations (SWE, IEEE) to include information about your company with a link to the recruiting website.
  • Ask professors on campus to mention your company or provide a link to your company website in their syllabus or in their lectures.
  • Post signs on campuses telling students where and how to log on to your website and what they will get if they do.
  • Use campus agents to pass out cards on campus with your URL listed.
  • Ask everyone coming to your recruiting (or corporate) website for the name and email of a college student.
  • Go through all your resumes for emails from past students and reach out to them for more email addresses.
  • Start a newsletter with information especially for college students and create a place for them to forward the newsletter on to a friend, who can then join the newsletter list themselves.
  • Go to the place where college students hang out and distribute small items with your URL on it. Ask students for their email address when they visit your site.

This list could be much longer, but I think you can see that by applying a bit of creative thinking you can easily and quickly get messages about your company and your jobs to a large number of students. The real point is that by using common channels of communication ó professors, placement offices, and student associations ó along with a handful of additional ones, you can reach a large number of students who have the background and skills you are seeking. The effort you spend here replaces the effort you normally spend choosing key schools and preparing materials that reach a handful of students, many of whom are not the ones you are looking for anyway. The budget you would have spent on campus travel, entertainment, or other activities can be used to prepare advertisements that appear on campus, in career centers, and in campus publications inviting students to your website, where they can be screened and where they can learn more about the positions you have to offer and your organization. Screening and Assessment Once you have attracted students to your website, you have the opportunity to provide them a tailored experience that will help them decide whether they want to work in your culture and whether they are interested or excited by what your company does and what they could do there. Assuming they are attracted to your company, you can begin the process of assessment by encouraging them to take a screening test. There are a wide variety of these tests available, ranging from simulations to standard personality tests. The U.S. Army has built some excellent simulations; Enterprise-Rent-a-Car continues to retain a lead in having a comprehensive screening and assessment solution available to students, online. Students have little problem with screening or assessment as long as they are given feedback and understand the basic reason why they are not going to be considered. Well-written screening tests that are correlated with performance and success are both legal and incredibly useful in attracting the best. The best students ó the “A” candidates ó appreciate the opportunity to show you that they really do know their stuff and that they are good potential employees for your organization. I could go on and on about the benefits of a virtual college program, but I hope you can already see what they are. Instead of focusing a lot of resources on a handful of schools and students, the Internet and its associated tools allow you to reach students anywhere in the world. You can take more time to show them the benefits of working for your organization, you can provide specific information, connect them to employees currently working in your firm, and in doing so open the door to minority and other students who would not be likely to ever know about opportunities or have a chance to apply. A virtual college recruiting program improves the diversity of people and ideas, reaches a broader geography, and helps foster creativity. Best of luck!

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 ERE.net, 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 kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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