Advice for Employers and Recruiters

On-campus recruiting won’t be feasible this fall but employers will still need to hire. Here’s how that will happen.

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Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
May 14, 2020

In the U.S. and Canada, the majority of students and recent graduates of one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities are hired by Fortune 1,000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale, meaning dozens or even hundreds a year. People say that small businesses employ most people and that’s probably true if you include the owners and 1099 contractors, but it isn’t true when it comes to who employs the bulk of students and recent grads.

College and university recruiting hasn’t changed much since the 1950’s. Employers assess their needs a year or more in advance, determine which schools to visit and what resources will be needed to properly engage the stakeholders on those campuses (career services, professors, students), fly out recruiters and hiring managers mostly in the fall but some in the early winter too, invite top candidates back to headquarters for a day of interviews, extend offers, etc. But more and more organizations have layered on what some call “virtual” recruitment, which essentially means reaching, engaging, and hiring on-line through job boards like College Recruiter and other sourcing tools. Very few organizations have looked at their virtual sources as being any more important than any one of the dozens of schools they may visit.

For the 2020-21 school year, it has become apparent that many and perhaps most college campuses will be closed or inaccessible to visitors at least for the fall. Even if the campus is open, many students will opt to attend classes remotely and so won’t be on-campus to meet and interview with employers who physically visit the campus. Employers are scrambling to shift resources from on-campus to virtual, and many are doing so very, very reluctantly as a virtual model requires far less resources, especially on the staffing side. You just don’t need nearly as many recruiters and nearly as much budget to hire dozens or hundreds on-line versus flying around the country so those whose jobs or travel perks are threatened are, understandably, not happy.

When the C-suite sees that their early careers recruiting program can be accomplished with far fewer resources and perhaps even better align with their diversity hiring efforts as more students will be hired from more schools, will they want to go back to the old model? I can’t see it. It seems to me that we’re at a tipping point where college recruiting moves from 1952 to the 21st century. As more students are hired virtually, it also seems to me that we’ll see an acceleration in more employers becoming school and even major agnostic, as productivity data has shown that there is little correlation between the school the student attended and their major and their productivity and some studies show a negative correlation.

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