Campus Recruiting: Students Tell All – How to succeed with campus recruiting

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I was recently at CU Boulder for some on-campus recruiting. (Fusion-io has two engineering offices in the Boulder area and they’re all hiring interns and new college grads). After the career fair, I listened in on a very interesting panel of students and very recent grads on the things they liked and don’t like about recruiters, looking for a job, career fairs and the jobsearch process as a college student.

Here are the notes that I took from the event:

Most valuable/attention getting things companies can do at career fairs:
- Have a recognizable logo. If your company looks familiar I am more likely to stop. (Later, commented that, even if the only reason I know your company is that I have seen your logo around campus, that’s still awareness).
- Pictures or actual products not just brochures or pamphlets. Let me SEE what you’re actually working on, even if its just prototypes.
- A board of what you’re looking for in terms of interns or grads, majors, and the type of work you’re trying to hire for.
- Job postings on your own website as well as on the campus site. It helps me feel confident you will actually be hiring from our school and I can spend time on your company.

How students research companies:
- Information sessions teach about you
- Look for information on the employer web site. Make sure it’s optimized for people curious about jobs and working with you as much as it is about your products.
- Students want to read about the companies culture, what it’s like to work there, and the company mission and vision. What’s your story? Why should I care about your company vs the others?

Information Sessions:
- bring more people than just two. Three or more is good because the lines at the end get very long.
- Have alumni help. It’s easy to approach people who may know my same professors or courses.
- Age of who you bring doesn’t matter. Students prefer you bring a diverse, interesting group, but an honest representation of the company and culture. If most of the people I will work with at your company is under 30 years old, who you bring older people to the career fair, it’s not an honest representation of the company.
- advertise on campus. Posters, through the career center, the professors, word of mouth, booths or tables setup where the students will frequent (sometimes the schools, not just the student union. For example, the business school students may not frequent the student union much, but they’re in the b-school building all day long.

Turn offs:
- Reputation of peers and independent reviews.
- If I am getting to know a company, I feel like I build a relationship then lose all momentum when having to “go apply online”
- I want a personal connection. Or a personal “Champion” to go extra mile to stay connected.

How to build a presence on campus other than career fairs and info sessions.
- pair up with a club to do some kind of event together. More fun than an info session
- connect with Greek Life
- come talk to a class

Job search tools:
- networking and word of mouth
- LinkedIn
- Local niche job lists
- do informational interviews through LinkedIn (I was not sure what this meant)
- turned off from sites that were spammy, like indeed (so many jobs) or sketchy (career builder).
- reviews of companies, etc. Balanced reviews. Not too good, not too bad.
- Twitter? Nobody really used it. Facebook? Same, except for a little research sometimes. Twitter occasionally used to look up executives that might tweet and therefore strike up a conversation that would otherwise be impossible.

Feedback:
- 2 weeks ish is about the right time for some kind of response.
- set return time after especially interviews. Within 2 weeks. Students prefer being told a specific date for feedback, even if the feedback is “we’re not ready yet”, the follow up makes them feel valued and not just a number.
- just stay in touch.
- respect the student’s time. If they’re not a fit, tell them. Cut them loose so they can move on.

Pay:
- it’s not going to change my mind that you pay more than someone else. I am more interested in opportunity if I have to choose.
- I’m not so concerned about pay now other than ten years from now.
- For internships, the opportunity has got to be huge for me (like Vogue) to intern without pay. I’ll go get a job before killing myself over a mediocre internship without (enough) pay.

Advertising:
- setup tables, postering,
- being on campus
- using current or former interns to announce
- “The big four are always on campus”

And here are some questions I asked (and some I didn’t have time to get answered)

Questions:
- Q: do you like the info session before or after the career fair. A: Mixed. It’s nice to meet the company before the career fair, but also nice to have the info session closer to actual interviews/selection.
- Q: how do you want to stay in touch with a company where they may have jobs LIKE what you want but nothing yet? A: Connect on linkedin and tell us why. Tell me about future opportunities as they come up.

Things I didn’t get to ask:
- do you have LinkedIn profiles? Do you feel like a connection through LinkedIn is a valid way to stay connected?
- we don’t have a strong campus connection today. How do we get to know someone who can allow us to speak in a class, partner with a club, etc.
- what is a “informational interview through LinkedIn?”
- Someone said when a recruiter is on LinkedIn posting in lots of groups, it looks like they are “just filling a job”. How would you prefer to see it?

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Robert Merrill

Senior Technical Recruiter
I am a Husband, Dad, Recruitinator, Geek. Mormon. Smart-Alec. . Professionally, I am the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Ancestry.com", the world's largest online family history resource. Check out our jobs! Since 2001, I have helped connect companies and talented professionals with a particular style of recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and retention that helps companies change their recruiting processes and capabilities forever. I believe that even small companies can do fantastic recruiting with the right tools and mindset.

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