How do you recruit more diverse students and recent grads? Start by recruiting from more colleges.

Posted September 29, 2020 by

For decades, most college students and recent graduates have been hired into their first jobs by large employers.

Those employers have typically talked about the importance of recruiting diverse college students and other candidates and some also hired a large percentage who were diverse, but almost none both hired and retained diverse candidates. This year, largely because of the killing of George Floyd, we’re seeing more employers care more about their diversity recruiting AND retention efforts. They see it is the right thing to do and also makes business sense to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Yet few know how to do so.

Phyllis Mooney, Executive Director of Career Services at Pace University, believes that if companies are serious about recruiting diverse talent, they can start by recruiting from a wider range of universities. According to Mooney, four strategies can help employers of college and university students and recent graduates hire and then retain a more diverse talent pool:

  • Early engagement, very early engagement – Start building your brand with diverse student talent before they even get to college campuses.  Speak to the students about the opportunities in your organization, and what it takes to get in the most coveted and competitive spots.  Educate, inspire, and plant the seeds…even if COVID makes that more difficult!  For example, Pace hosted a virtual event in mid-July with EY targeting incoming first-year students and rising second-year students. The theme was why students should choose a career in accounting. The purpose of the event was to attract more talent to accounting while students were still undecided. In short, EY invested in its community by expanding the number of students choosing accounting, even though only some of those accounting students would choose EY.
  • Sell your company – Top employers come to campus with the attitude that all students want to work for them and therefore the students need to sell themselves in a way that makes them stand out from all the others.  If great, diverse talent is what you are after, try flipping your thinking. Pitch your brand and programs to students. Tell them why they should choose your company over others. Follow up with the students in a way you traditionally expect them to follow up with you.
  • Send more employees to campus – Along with your HR representatives, send more people from your ERGs to campus to meet students.  In addition to the technical questions, students will have many questions about the company culture, and want to figure out if they fit in.  Speaking to someone who will be able to relate to them, makes a huge difference.  
  • Mentorship is critical for retention purposes – Invest in building a mentorship program. Choose your company mentors carefully, and train them to be successful at it.           
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