The State of College Recruiting & How TA Pros Can Keep Up

If you are a college student, we might have some good news for you: CareerBuilder just released a national survey along with Harris Poll indicating that of the 2,380 hiring managers and HR representatives who participated, 74% plan to hire recent college graduates this year. This is up from last year where 67% of employers planned on hiring new grads, and is the highest outlook we’ve seen in 10 years. Coincidentally, this report comes just in time for spring graduation. 

If you’re an employer, this means you should have already stepped up your Talent Acquisition strategy, but don’t worry, it’s not too late. Though college attendance has dropped over the past few years, the increase of employers interested in these greenhorn, yet educated candidates is sure to mean competition for organizations. What’s more, does a degree equal ready-for-a-higher-level job, anyway?


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Educated and Unprepared

In 2015, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) found large discrepancies in the perceptions college grads had of their own workforce preparedness and in how employers perceived their preparedness. For instance, when it came to ability to work with others, 64% of students believed they were adequately trained in the skill while a mere 37% of employers agreed. One of the only skills where the discrepancy fell below 10% was in graduates’ ability to stay current on technologies – 37% of employers feel confident in their training compared to 46% of graduates.

There’s a chance this disagreement can be attributed to college graduates’ naivety, employers’ high expectations or lack of understanding from both. Whatever the case, many graduates and companies felt a student’s time within a university had not fully prepared them for the world of work.

.@CareerBuilder surveyed 2,380 hiring managers and HR reps revealing good news for college grads: Click To Tweet

Secondary Ed’s Response

Those findings left universities in the hot seat. It was clear that academic skills were not all it took for successful employment, and graduates were looking at that preparation in deciding where to invest their studies. Meanwhile, companies have always held a candidate’s alma mater in high regard. Universities all over the US responded by incorporating high-impact educational practices (HIP). These courses embraced the need for soft skills in addition to the hard skills, bringing together academic lessons and real-world situations.

These changes are working. Accenture’s annual College Graduate Employment Survey found that 77% of 2016 graduates felt their education prepared them well. However, when it comes to hiring for your organization, you need confidence in your candidate selections. How can Talent Acquisition and HR professionals best approach new grads while assembling the right skills for their organization?

Understand Gen Z Now… No Seriously

Generation Z are those born from approximately 1995 to 2014, and make up 25% of the US economy. By 2020, they will represent 40% of all consumers and in that year, the first wave will be around 24 years old. That means some will be interested in career level jobs. And though 2020 might seem like a far off date, it’s less than 3 years from now.

Using generational statistics and research to motivate recruiting strategy has and probably always will catch some controversy. Unfortunately, those who resist preferences of subsequent generations, stall forward progress. Ignoring those trends or cues means a missed opportunity. Especially since Talent Acquisition Technology is stepping up to meet the demand and make hiring more collaborative and informed. The best part is it’s speaking the language of grads from younger generations, both in goals and in medium.

Those who resist preferences of subsequent generations, stall forward progress. Read more: Click To Tweet

Get Mobile, Online and Responsive

New graduates are hoping to connect with employers using their phone. In fact, 70% of active candidates hope to be able to apply for a job with their mobile device. It’s important that organizations understand this when posting job openings, especially geared to entry-level graduates.

We all know of the Indeeds, Monsters and Glassdoors, but tools like WayUp, formerly Campus Job, are built specifically to help students and employers connect to one another. Using online profiles built by the grads themselves, WayUp presents opportunities to those who meet specific requirements. If interested, they apply. Graduates and employers alike are confident they meet the needs of the position. Meanwhile, everything is online without organizations having to spend hours rebuilding their websites and recruitment process.

Upgrade from Traditional Career Fairs

The career fair probably won’t be completely erased from your college recruiting strategy. If no resumes are gathered from one, your appearance will at least introduce your brand and value to students with wide networks of other educated students. However, a campus career fair is not the only way to connect with and learn about future employees.

One 2016 study found that Generation Z is approaching the job search differently than even their predecessors, the Millennials. While Boomers and Gen X turn to landlines (67% and 62% respectively) and desktops (74% for both) for communication, Millennials are far more likely to turn to desktops (76%) or laptops (68%). Generation Z, on the other hand, are far more mobile-inclined, turning to smartphones and laptops 82% of the time.

They’re online, a majority of Millennials and Gen Z are not only comfortable being recruited through social media, but prefer it. If they aren’t recruited through the channel, they will be checking your accounts to understand organizational culture and the office environment. Knowing how important employer branding and reputation is to today’s candidate is exactly what inspired The Muse to create their online company profile pages. The Muse is an online forum focused on providing career advice and job openings to interested job seekers. The website takes the job search further by allowing organizations to build an entire profile with images of the office, video interviews with leadership and links to social media accounts, all alongside available positions.

Take Your Introduction into the Future

Over and over again, we hear how the big names in technology gather flocks of interested talent. These organizations have their pick of top professionals, whether they happen to be experienced or newly graduated. First choice employers usually have well-known products and services, but they also have a reputation for trying more innovative recruiting and management strategies. Not everyone can be Google or Microsoft, however organizations who welcome technology can make impactful strides in attracting top talent.

For example, while still fairly new, virtual reality (VR) tools are becoming far more common with a majority newer smartphones capable of supporting its technology. Intuit, financial management software giant, received feedback from college students who were asking for a more in-depth look at their internal environment and culture. VR was a way the company could introduce their campus and team without asking the candidate to visit. Not only was their interactive VR campus tour great for branding, it allowed the organization to expand reach to talent who might not be near their HQ.

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Get Gamified

At Talent Tech Labs, we’ve been doing a great deal of research on the future of hiring Assessments and how today’s top Assessment technologies are making Talent Acquisition better. As mentioned, many employers fear the inexperience of newly graduated talent. It’s that fear that often results in over-complicating the hiring process, subjecting the candidate experience to damaging inefficiencies or completely giving up on fresh, new talent altogether.

Assessments are a great way to ensure the hire you make is the right fit for the culture and skill-level, however, they have to be approached the best way possible to see true efficiency. Gamification in Assessments helps candidates connect to the process, usually in a positive way while still providing employers the data and information they need to make a confident hire.

MercerMatch is a game-based tool that assess candidates for cognitive and emotional traits. Similarly, Riipen hosts a platform that facilitates collaboration between employers and talented college students and graduates. Employers post real challenges and problems being faced within their business and invites students and grads to provide solutions. Not only do candidates get the chance to connect with employers, they can receive cash and incentives for their efforts.

It’s an exciting time in college recruiting and Talent Acquisition overall. Employers and college graduates are feeling more optimistic about their career and future development, however, that doesn’t mean it’s time to remain idle. Technology is providing amazing means to connect and cultivate relationships with talented candidates and in ways they actually appreciate. Things are looking up. How are you improving your college recruiting?

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