Reputation can make or break an organization. The reputation your organization builds with prospective hires is commonly referred to as your employer brand. Building a strong and recognizable employer brand is a crucial component of a successful recruitment strategy. Your employer brand is an organizational image that ultimately tells prospective hires who you are, what you stand for, and what it’s like to work for you. The purpose of having an effective brand is to ensure you to attract and hire the right people for your organization.
When looking specifically at recruiting students, whether on or off campus, it is important to ensure that you are creating an employer brand that will resonate with your target audience. Students looking for co-ops and internships, as well as new graduates looking for their first full-time opportunity, may not know anything about your organization. Your campus employer brand strategy is an opportunity to put your best foot forward and showcase to students and graduates why working for your organization is an excellent career choice.
For specifics on how to develop your employer brand to appeal to campus hires, read on to discover a step-by-step strategy that you can follow to ensure you are top-of-mind when it comes time for students to start the job application process.
Step #1: Begin Building Your Employer Brand With Some Introspection
It’s important to start with an introspective look at your organization and gain an understanding of what perks you offer, what you stand for, and why any of this would be appealing to entry-level candidates. According to Gallup, high-quality candidates are attracted to companies that resonate with who candidates are. These candidates will assess whether your company mission and culture align with their interests and beliefs. It’s also key to have an awareness of the current perception of your organization among students. Do they think positively of your firm, negatively, or are they not thinking about you at all?
Once you have finished identifying your current brand perception, who you want to attract, and what image you want to convey, it’s time to get started on creating and implementing your campus branding strategy. Knowing the exact image and perception you want to convey is key for your branding strategy. The image you convey enables you to ensure you send the right message out to your intended student audience to help attract like-minded people to your organization.
Step #2: Build Your Employer Brand by Creating an Online Presence
Building an online presence is non-negotiable in today’s recruiting world. Especially when looking to build your brand among younger generations who are hyper-engaged with technology, it’s necessary to be active on social media. Entrepreneur states that the millennial generation spends approximately 18 hours a day connected to social media (whether actively or passively), which means you have a captive audience ready and waiting for you to engage.
The first step in establishing your online presence for campus recruitment is to ensure you have an attractive and easy to navigate career page on your company website. The page should include the benefits of working for your firm, testimonials of current staff and former students, examples of "a day in the life of" for various co-op and entry-level positions, and of course, a list of your open roles.
Once you have mastered your career page, it is time to start incorporating other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube into your strategy.
All companies should already have a page on LinkedIn, but it’s also essential to include a page tailored to your campus recruitment strategy. To create a LinkedIn page tailored to campus recruitment activities, you can add a showcase page to your company page highlighting upcoming events, open positions and positive feedback from student employees and recent grad hires. YouTube is a fun way to promote your organization through media in the form of videos. You can share interviews with current and former student employees, job-shadowing videos and more. Since 41% of millennials are on Facebook daily, according to Forbes, it is crucial to use this platform in your branding strategy by sharing company news and successes, upcoming campus networking events and new career postings.
To support your social media recruiting strategy, you can use a tool such as Symplicity Recruit that seamlessly connects your social media accounts directly to your job postings.
Step #3: Attend and Host Student Events to Build Your Employer Brand
Now that you have an online presence established, it’s important to showcase your brand on campus. Attending and hosting campus events is the best way to project your brand using personal interaction between students and your employees. Interacting with students and graduates in a face-to-face setting, whether on or off-campus, provides organizations the opportunity to establish stronger relationships with candidates. On-campus events include career fairs and company information sessions. Off-campus events can include company-sponsored case competitions, corporate parties, and sports tournaments. These events will provide you with the opportunity to network with prospective hires in educational and fun settings, all the while promoting your organization and available career opportunities.
Since many employers attend on-campus recruitment events, you may want to think outside the box to stand out. One option is to host an event at your organization in the area of the office where students and entry-level employees would be working. Ensure staff of various departments and levels attend and incorporate snacks, company trivia and games to allow candidates to relax, have fun, and get a feel for your corporate culture.
It’s also important to ensure your organization stands out among the many businesses that attend on-campus recruitment events. One of the best ways to do this is to carefully select only highly energetic, engaged and positive staff to attend these events. These employees will draw students away from other booths with their upbeat attitudes and infectious energy. Additionally, having a contest or giveaway can entice students to visit your booth. Once you have them there, you will have a captive audience at least for a couple of minutes to spout the benefits of working for your organization.
Step #4: Leverage Earned Media for Your Employer Brand
Earned media is another facet of a brand-building strategy to attract new hires, particularly at the entry level. According to HubSpot, earned media refers to “any publicity you haven't paid for that's owned and created by a third party.” Examples of earned media include someone not associated with your organization referencing you on a social media channel, independent product reviews, consumers' social media posts, and conversation among online communities. To receive this earned media, simply ensure you are actively engaging with your online audience and regularly providing exceptional service to both clients and employees. It won’t take long for positive publicity to come your way. A specific example of how to obtain earned media is to encourage engaged employees, whether current or former, to write an independent review online regarding their experience working at your organization.
Step #5: Grow Your Employer Brand On-Campus With Brand Ambassadors
Campus brand ambassadors are another highly effective strategy that involves hiring students who are influential among various student teams, clubs and organizations at the schools you are targeting. These ambassadors can help spread positive messages about what it’s like to work at your firm and provide an approachable channel for students to connect and discuss career opportunities.
To hire a brand ambassador, connect with students of influence who can make an impact on their peers. Alternatively, reach out to former co-op students or recent graduates you have hired. Offer them the opportunity to partner with you to help promote your brand as an exciting and memorable one among their peers. In most cases, a brand ambassador is a paid position, but you will reap the rewards with the positive publicity and word of mouth you will receive among students on campus. Ensure you work collaboratively with your brand ambassador to create a program in which they can help spread the word at various student events regarding why your company is such a great place to work.
Putting It All Together
To make a statement among students and graduates that your organization is attractive and worth applying to, it's key to build a recognizable, positive and engaging employer brand both on and off-campus. If you take the time to carefully consider and follow each of the steps listed above, you will be sure to have a memorable impact on prospective campus hires.
Friedman, L. (2016, December 29). 4 Millennial Social Media Trends to Watch in 2017. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenfriedman/2016/12/29/4-millennial-social-media-trends-to-watch-in-2017/#6391b00c6e69
Houle, S. & Campbell, K. (2016, January 4). What High-Quality Job Candidates Look for in a Company. Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/187964/high-quality-job-candidates-look-company.aspx
Kolowich, L. (2014, June 3). What is Earned Media? Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-earned-media-faqs
Taylor, K. (2014, March 10). Millennials Spend 18 Hours a Day Consuming Media – And It’s Mostly Content Created By Peers. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232062