Three Tips for Recruiting Entry-Level Positions, Internships Amid COVID-19

Posted July 15, 2020 by

By Brianne Thomas, Head of Recruiting, Jobvite

There is no doubt that college graduates who are looking for employment are facing an interesting challenge.

Though once expected to enter into the strongest job market in 50 years, the millions of students who recently graduated from two- or four-year colleges are now beginning their careers in a market with a 13.3% unemployment rate. The encouraging news for job seekers is that recruiting efforts are not completely stopping, but rather shifting, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find the best candidate for the position in the current job climate, recruiters must rethink their strategies for reaching entry-level talent. Below are three tips on how college recruiters can adapt their processes and tactics for reaching and attracting recent graduates for entry-level roles and internships.

Highlight Remote Work

A rising number of U.S. companies are now considering permanent remote and work-from-home options for non-essential workers. In fact, recent research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that 17% of HR leaders in 2,284 U.S. companies report their organizations will move to permanent work-from-home policies in the future for their employees.

Not only do employers understand the advantages of remote work, but workers prefer this arrangement, too. According to the 2020 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Report, 34% of U.S. workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in order to work remotely. Additionally, the study finds that 65% of job seekers say remote work is ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ in their decision to accept a job offer.

To appeal to recent college graduates, recruiters should specify opportunities for working remotely on job descriptions and advertise open positions on social channels as “remote.” Be transparent about the level of location flexibility, whether it’s temporary or permanent, and specify what type of training plans and mentorship support will be available remotely to new grads or entry-level staff that will allow them to have hands-on teaching similar to what they would have received in the office. It’s also important to describe all technology, technical support or equipment stipends the company provides to virtual workers. Lastly, explain the internal platforms and tools the employer utilizes to create an inclusive environment for home-based workers.

Connect Via Text

The use of texting is second nature for college students and recent graduates. Recruiters looking to fill an entry-level position or internship should embrace texting to quickly and efficiently source prospective candidates. Jobvite has found that over 90% of organizations that have tried text recruiting stick with it. As a result, it is anticipated that text-based recruiting will only continue to increase as the workforce continues to meet candidates where they are.

In many cases, texting can be a more effective recruiting channel than email as it offers a number of advantages for recruiters and candidates alike. A text message, for instance, is typically responded to in 90 seconds, as opposed to an email, which has an average response time of 90 minutes. Statistics also show that while email has a 20% average open rate, texts have a 98% open rate. This accelerates the communication process, allows recruiters to find the right candidate faster to shorten the time-to-hire period, and improves the overall candidate experience, recent college graduates included.

When reaching out to a candidate via text, recruiters should clearly explain why they are reaching out and how they initially made the connection (i.e. “We met at a campus job fair.”). Creating relevancy for the candidate is the perfect place to start the chat—next, follow up with a question. In addition, use a library of questions available to access within talent acquisition software to navigate the most important screening queries before sharing the chat with the hiring manager. These initial texts help gauge which candidates are the most interested, so future efforts can focus on highly engaged applicants.

To engage entry-level job applicants, recruiters can use text to share deeper insights with candidates on what it’s like to work within the organization and how they might fit into the overall work environment. The Job Seeker Nation Report found that company values and culture are an important factor in evaluating a job offer with 52% of job seekers citing it as important. Consider sending employment branding materials via text to candidates, including job descriptions, a list of office perks, team photos, video tours of the office, and more.

Leverage Social Media for Referrals

According to the 2020 Job Seeker Nation Report, 42% of survey respondents say they find out about job openings on social media, a 10% jump from the previous year. Recruiters must include social media in the recruiting process to attract, engage, and connect with job candidates, especially the younger generation of talent. Afterall, Gen Z (ages 7 to 22), the first demographic group that has never known a world without the internet, spends 2 hours and 55 minutes per day on social media.

Amid the COVID-19 climate, one-third of workers today say they are ‘very likely’ or ‘pretty likely’ to share job openings at their companies via social media, compared to 26% before the current pandemic. In addition, 38% of workers say they are ‘pretty likely’ or ‘very likely’ to click on a job opportunity that someone in their network posts on social media. However, many workers who want to participate in referral programs can’t because the employer doesn’t offer one.

Talent acquisition teams have a great opportunity to create a culture and structure to support referrals.

Employees who are satisfied with their companies and jobs are eager to invite those in their network to join them, which makes social referrals an important component of the recruitment marketing process. It’s also an easier, faster, and cheaper way to source and hire candidates. Recruiters and employers need to make social referrals easy by placing social sourcing and referral tools right in employees’ hands. With these tools, employees can share open job opportunities with their social and professional networks through automatic social publishing.

As the world of work is shifting, there is a great opportunity for college recruiters to adjust their processes to reach and attract top entry-level talent. Recruiters and employers who adapt to these needs will be well-positioned to succeed as the economy improves.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR With 10 years of combined HR and Talent Acquisition experience, Brianne Thomas has spent her career involved with various aspects of full cycle recruiting focusing on Talent Acquisition and HR Leadership for high growth tech, SaaS, and consulting organizations.

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