Does college recruiting make sense for your company?

by Michael on June 15, 2010

Recently, I’ve spoken to several C-level executives of mid-sized companies and they have all asked me if college recruiting makes sense for their organization.  They have all expressed to me that their company is currently flooded with resumes of people with industry experience and thus they question the need to develop their own talent. Besides, they know going on campus would be expensive and they don’t believe they have the resources to compete with the larger more-well known firms. Below is my business case for not only why now is the perfect time to go on campus, but also a couple of tips for how to be successful.

Why Now:

1)      Basic supply/demand:  During the recession many of your competitors cut back or eliminated entirely their college recruiting. This presents an opportunity for smaller firms to gain access to elite talent that graduates on-campus year after year, but with less competition. Candidates now are more open-minded to smaller companies and feel a sense of loyalty to those that give them an opportunity. Additionally, with less competition on campus, your offer to acceptance ratio, should soar as they have fewer alternatives.

2)    Grow your own talent:  The winners when the market returns will be those that have proactively invested in their number one asset, human capital. Rather than waiting for the economy to improve and then paying large agency fees and salaries to access top talent, grow your own talent pipeline. The best analogy I give is that of the New York Yankees. To compete with the Yankees who outspend 90% of their competitors by a minimum of a 2-to-1 ratio, teams have had to compete by investing in their minor league system. By allocating their financial resources to groom their own talent, in the long run they can not only compete with the Yankees, but do so in a more fiscally responsible manner.  The other benefit of investing in campus talent is you can teach them your systems and methodology without having to break habits or pre-conceived notions that more experienced recruits bring with them.

Now that we have defined the why, here comes the how: 

Be strategic:  To be successful on campus, one must put together a strategic plan to identify, evaluate, and secure the best talent. Included in this plan should be which schools you are going to target, what you are looking for in terms of candidate qualifications, and how you are going to “sell” candidates that your firm is the best place for them. It is also vitally important that you do something unique to distinguish your company from other competitors. Millennials (defined as those born between 1980-2000) form their impression of your company by who you have representing your firm on campus so make sure you have your best ambassadors on campus during the recruiting process.

Build a brand:  To stand out on campus now requires building a brand that appeals to this generation known as Millennials. Companies can optimally achieve this through the adoption of social media into their recruiting strategy.  Ernst & Young and Deloitte have brilliantly accomplished this with Facebook Fan pages, Youtube, and their own career section of their websites.  By engaging with recruits in social media you are modernizing the recruiting process as well as building brand ambassadorship through your employees.

Develop an internship program:  There are many benefits to having an internship program. Among the major benefits is your ability to “try before you buy” on potential full-time employees. Students are eager to learn and it gives both the prospective employees and your firm a chance to see if you are a good match for each other. Additionally, it creates brand awareness on campus that your firm is hiring.

Those companies that take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity on campus are setting themselves up for long-term success

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Westin June 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Great piece, Michael. It should be noted that hiring young talent out of college comes with a huge financial benefit. **First, it should be noted that it is completely illegal to hire anyone based on age**. An employer’s cost of providing benefits is substantially lower for young employees. Depending on a company’s corporate benfits philosophy, the difference between young talent and experience could be anywhere in the range of $2,000-$20,000 per employee per year. That is big money, and just another example of how the ROI on young talent is much higher.


Michael June 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm


Thanks for your sharing your comments and insight. To your point, in an economy like this where its imperative for companies to figure out ways to create more profit for their organization hiring Gen Y makes tremendous financial sense.


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