Before You Start A College Recruiting Program, Make Sure You Need One

Moe has designed and implemented enterprise intern, employee referral, contingent, and recruiter training programs. From drafting service level agreements to managing the launch of a new employer brand, she specializes in striking a balance between creativity and efficiency.

Your Boss walks into your office and says I would like you to start going to campus. Before you order one giveaway, table display or contact a campus office stop and ask “Why?” What problem will a college recruiting program solve? Many college recruiting programs begin for the wrong reasons – executives want to visit their alma mater, other companies in your industry are doing it, it is fun, etc. You need to ensure that your organization’s hiring needs to align with the types of hires you make directly out of college.

Now I am not suggesting you march into your boss’s office and demand answers. Your conversation, of course, requires more finesse. It would go more like – “Great idea boss. I’d love to plan a college recruiting program, and I have some questions. Let’s schedule some time to chat.”

But first, you’ll want to do some research. If you are not already, get familiar with the types of openings your company currently has including skills, competencies, and experience required.

You’ll want to ask your boss questions to really understand their motivation.

Could you give me a little background on how the idea of a college recruiting program came about?

What recruiting gaps will a college recruiting program solve? Note if those gaps are skill based, location-based, or something else.

Do we want interns or are we looking to entry-level new grad hires? If so, how many positions are we looking to fill? They may come back to you with some ridiculously high number, and you will need to probe a little further.

Where is the budget coming from? The answer to this question will tell you a lot. I don’t mean where is the budget for the career fair giveaways coming from as that is pretty straightforward. Find out who is paying the new hire’s salary and training costs. This information is crucial for intern programs.

Who should I work with to create meaningful position descriptions? This question will help with sourcing and branding, but for now, this gives you more details of the seriousness of your leadership team.

The next step is to schedule time with the business leader that is championing the effort. This meeting will be very similar to your standard recruiting intake meeting. You will get further into the details. Ask for the job descriptions for the positions you will be recruiting.

You want to ensure the roles leverage skills gained in college and through past internship/work experiences. If the jobs consist primarily of administrative tasks, work with your leaders to help them understand the capabilities of new graduates. If the job requirements are higher than a typical new graduate’s skills and experience, collaborate with the leader to re-work the role or consider not including it in your college recruiting efforts.

Keep in mind the job descriptions could have been written a long time ago and there might not have been much thought put into the requirements. The point of this discussion is to understand the needs of the organization truly. During this conversation, it will become clear of the necessity and scale of a college recruiting program.

If the numbers, skill set and experience don’t align to the strategic hiring goals of the organization you need to push back. It is frustrating building a program and going on campus when your company doesn’t have any entry-level positions available. At the end of the year you will have done two things: have hundreds of college candidates frustrated with your organization and spent time and money that you could have used to fill those mid-level positions that have been open for 60+ days.

However, if the staffing projects, skill sets, and budget align then, you have the data and understanding to build an impressive program with leadership support from a solid foundation.