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On-Campus Networking Events for Employers

Organizations attract students to apply for entry-level roles by building an attractive employer brand, both on and off-campus. Whether attending recruitment events on campus or hosting a networking event off-campus, recruiters should seize the opportunity to share their company's brand and career opportunities with prospective hires. The most successful talent acquisition specialists know that participating in campus recruiting events is key to attracting top entry-level talent.

Expanding the Talent Pool With On-Campus Recruitment Events

Competition for top talent is fierce, particularly in industries that require highly skilled employees. At the end of 2016, recruiters reported that there simply weren't enough qualified candidates to fill their open positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) occupations and healthcare - including titles such as Computer and Information Research Scientists, Information Security Analysts, Physician Assistants and Tax Preparers.

On-campus networking events with various programs make it possible to build a pipeline of qualified applicants in various niches, expanding your future talent pool. Making the connection early on with students will ensure you remain top-of-mind when they graduate and seek full-time employment.

Choosing the Right Schools on Which to Focus Your Recruiting Efforts

Developing and participating in on-campus networking events requires an investment of resources, so it must be approached strategically. There is no need to assume the time and expense of a college-sponsored job fair if participants are unlikely to have the skills that match hard-to-fill entry-level positions. It’s important to select a list of target schools to focus your recruitment efforts on. The first step is to consider the following four questions:

  • Does the school offer academic programs in the relevant subject areas?
  • Is the school located relatively close to the organization’s office?
  • What was the return on investment of past on-campus events at this school, if applicable?
  • Where are your top competitors recruiting?

Answering these questions will help you narrow down the schools where you will likely have the most success in attracting quality hires.

Finally, consider using your employees as ambassadors at schools where they have previously attended. It’s a great strategy to bring your employees who are alumni on campus at the schools you target, as students will more closely relate and identify to employees who were once in their shoes.

Creating an On-Campus Brand That Attracts Applicants

On-campus recruiting events are important in both short-term and long-term recruiting efforts. Whether or not there are immediate openings, a presence at the school offers an opportunity to build the organization's employer brand among students who will soon join the labor force. Through close relationships with school administrators, employers gain an understanding of students' expectations as far as the values and culture of companies they want to work for after graduation. Recruiters can then showcase the relevant features and benefits of a career with the organization, from the workplace culture to the company's core values.

The key to successful branding is making personal connections with students by matching company culture to student interests. Many of the individuals entering the labor force for the first time state that corporate partnerships with local communities are an attractive feature of a prospective employer. On-campus branding is a chance to share information about the organization's role in supporting community initiatives, as well as any community-related benefits available to employees. For instance, companies that offer paid time off to volunteer with a non-profit or programs that match employees' charitable donations can share these initiatives with students to help emphasize their brand.

Employer branding shouldn't be targeted exclusively at senior students - developing a solid reputation as an employer-of-choice begins in the first years of college, as underclassmen can also be a great source for interns.

Developing Effective On-Campus Recruiting and Networking Events

There is more to on-campus networking than standard job fairs, at which multiple employers set up tables in the college's common area. While such events have their place, building an employer brand and generating excitement in potential applicants requires more creativity.

Begin by partnering with the school's career services department, which is responsible for managing on-campus employer events and supporting students in their job searches. This group provides guidance on programs already in place, as well as data on the types of events that have been most successful historically. Use this information to choose the best networking options for this location. Some possibilities are outlined below.

Classroom Partnerships

Organizations that actively participate in educational activities stick in students' memories for the length of their careers, so consider forming partnerships with the relevant academic departments at your targeted schools. Offer up your employees as mentors for student projects and send internal subject matter experts to give guest lectures in class. Also, consider sponsoring experiential learning experiences and provide in-kind donations of skill development tools.

Current employees with a connection to the school are often able to assist in making the appropriate introductions. However, if that method is not an option, do a quick online search to locate the department chairperson. Most schools publish faculty contact information, and often a brief note to the department head expressing interest in supporting student learning is all that it takes to get started.

Corporate Conversations

Organizations that are fairly well-known can benefit from the format of “corporate conversations," also known as company information sessions. These events are typically on the shorter side, around 60 minutes, and they consist of a very brief presentation and an informal question-and-answer session. Since students already have basic information about the company, this is an opportunity to make a personal connection. These events are typically sponsored by the relevant academic department, with support from the career services office. Contact either with a proposal and be prepared to make adjustments based on school policies and procedures.

Corporate Networking Nights

While these events resemble traditional job fairs, corporate networking nights are more intimate. Multiple companies participate with the express purpose of filling a small number of positions, including internships. This event style is helpful for less well-known companies, who might not draw as many students when presenting alone.

Academic departments and career services offices typically initiate corporate networking night events, so it is important to connect with representatives from both departments to express interest in being included. If the school doesn't already have plans in place for such events, an offer to sponsor and organize the evening is typically quite welcome.

Leadership Meet and Greets

Organizations can cement personal relationships with prospective candidates by offering an opportunity to speak with recruiters and business leaders one-on-one. Typically, meet and greets are held just after a presentation-style event, wherein students and company representatives can mingle and have one-on-one career conversations. As with other on-campus networking events, planning begins by contacting the relevant academic department or the career services office.

Creating an on-campus presence ensures a steady supply of entry-level applicants, particularly when companies focus on showcasing their employer brand. Participation in traditional campus recruiting is a good start, but the truly memorable events are those that offer something new in terms of format and access to business leaders. To help manage all upcoming campus recruiting and networking events, consider using a tool such as Symplicity Recruit, which allows you to stay organized with all the events that you attend and host across multiple campuses.


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