How do employers plan to recruit students this fall?

Posted May 21, 2020 by

We’ve had pretty detailed conversations with dozens of employers about how they’re approaching fall recruiting. It seems likely to me that there will be a number of approaches by the 3,000 four-year colleges and universities plus the 4,400 one- and two-year schools. At a high level, we expect to see:

  • Small percentage of schools resuming business as usual with all classes offered in-person. Some of these like NYU and Notre Dame plan to shift the dates so students arrive earlier or later than normal.
  • Small percentage going completely online. The entire California State University system with 500,000 students seem to be heading in this direction. 
  • Plurality taking a hybrid approach. My youngest child attends a school taking this approach. They seem likely to close the residence halls as physical distancing is almost impossible in that kind of environment and they’ve been talking about holding the large classes with hundreds of students only online and moving small classes to rooms that previously held medium-sized classes and moving the medium-sized classes to the largest rooms. In addition, they seem to be inclined to allowing students to attend classes in-person, online, or some combination of the two. 

For employers, it seems that only that first, “business as usual” approach makes it feasible for employers to recruit on-campus as they have in the past, but I question how many recruiters and hiring managers are going to be anxious to jump on an airplane or even spend a day in a small interview room meeting with dozens of students. Even if they’re willing to do so, will employers be willing to send their employees on the road and potentially incur the liability of those people getting sick?

Planning for both scenarios is what we’re seeing from the most sophisticated of employers and seems quite prudent to me. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Regarding using job boards like College Recruiter: keep in-mind that there are many ways to do so. Traditionally, employers have either searched resumes (quality of engagement is high but very difficult to scale) or posted jobs (lower quality of engagement but easier to scale).

Some job boards also offer products such as targeted email campaigns which offer the ability to reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of highly targeted candidates by school, geography, major, year of graduation, grade point average, languages, diversity (military veterans, people with disabilities, people of color, gender), and more. For most medium- and large-sized employers, candidates responding to postings or emails go to the ATS to apply so they follow the employer’s preferred process for applying.

The questions about to recruit students if campuses are closed or travel isn’t feasible are shared by many, many employers. Fortunately, we were able to gather a panel of some of the country’s foremost experts on recruiting students and recent graduates to pick their brains about what their organizations plan to do and what they recommend. Panelists were:

  • Ralph Brigham, Global Director of Campus Relations for Southwestern Advantage
  • Chris Carlson, Senior Manager University Recruiting and Relations for Northrop Grumman
  • Stephanie Pallante, University Recruitment and Relations Senior Manager for Cigna
  • Bruce Soltys, Head of Talent Sourcing for Travelers Companies
  • Sean Treccia, Director of Global Campus Recruiting Programs for KPMG LLP
  • Kara Yarnot, Vice President Strategic Consulting Services for Hireclix

You can watch the webcast at

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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters | Tagged