Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a company that hoped to hire college students. It sent out a few brave souls (also known as recruiters) to find the best and brightest talent. These recruiters had to scale icy mountains, fight fire-breathing dragons, and face off against evil wizards.
They managed to defeat each roadblock, but before they could achieve their goal, they were faced with one final challenge: to hold an info session that would reinforce their company’s brand on campus, attract the right students, convince them to apply for jobs, and help their company to meet its recruiting goals.
Now this may sound like a fairy tale, but we promise it’s all true (except for maybe the part about the dragons and evil wizards). Conducting the perfect info session can certainly feel like a challenge worthy of a knight of the round table, but it doesn’t have to be.
We caught up with some industry leaders and experts to get their advice on planning and conducting compelling info sessions. Here’s their advice on attracting and appealing to the students you want to hire.
1. Maximize your timing
One of the most important things to consider when planning your info session is the timing. This includes:
- Your hiring schedule for full-time positions and internships. When will you need new hires to start? How long does the process take from application to on-boarding?
- When your competitors are on campus. If they’re visiting in the fall, for instance, you won’t want to wait until the spring for your first visit.
- How your info session will tie in with other on-campus recruiting activities. Jeff Goodman, Principal Consultant at Campus Strategic Partners explains, “When you go to a career fair and you have students strolling by and they have no idea who you are and what you do, it’s really frustrating…There are some things you can do about that. For example, if you do some general info sessions, you can time them so they take place before the on-campus career fair.”
2. Plot your promotion strategy
We recently surveyed hundreds of student and recent grad job-seekers on AfterCollege, and 67.2% of them had never attended a company info session. There are a number of reasons that this could be the case (they’re too busy, not thinking about the job search yet, don’t know what type of job they’re interested in), but it’s also highly likely that a lot of them simply aren’t finding out about these types of events. (And I’m not just pulling this out of thin air—career services offices are notorious for not getting messages through to their students.)
Yet if you’ve observed any other companies, you’ve probably noticed that some employers always manage to have full houses for their info sessions and on-campus events. So what’s their secret? Seasoned recruiters know that it’s not enough to just let a school’s career services office know that they’re coming—they need to inform students themselves.
Mickey Garcia, Global University Relations Manager and Diversity Recruiting Outreach at CH2MHILL, explains, “We market specifically to the Engineering groups that we want to build partnerships with to let them know that we’ll be there.” For example, CH2MHILL works with diversity student groups on local and national levels (SHPE, NSBE, SWE, SASE) in addition to groups that are tied to honor societies and the military.
What does this mean for you? You’ll want to spend time building relationships with specific departments and student groups like fraternities and sororities, honor societies, and clubs so that you can find students who have the academic background and skills you’re seeking. If you’ve already built those types of relationships, keep the lines of communication open. Tell the groups about your campus visits, job and internship opportunities, and upcoming scholarship deadlines.
Interns can also be a great way of getting your message out. If you have any interns who are current students at schools you’ll be visiting, see if they’d be willing to help out with publicizing your event.
AfterCollege can also help with this! Our Events service allows you to promote your upcoming info sessions—and any other on-campus happenings you’re involved in—to the specific students you’d like to reach. Check out our Events page for more info.
3. Consider your content
Once you’ve figured out the timing of your visit and gotten the word out there, you may think the hardest part is all over. Unfortunately, you still have the big task of deciding the format and content of your info session.
Mary Scott, President of Scott Resource Group, warns that students do not react well to cookie-cutter PowerPoint presentations: “Info sessions need to tell students something they don’t already know. You just can’t show up with your 25-slide PowerPoint presentation and leave time for Q and A at the end. Students want to interact and hear the representatives’ stories and what they’re working on at the company, in a very granular way.”
Mary identifies “boring [students] in your PowerPoint presentation” as a “toxic practice” and emphasizes that you should “Remember that any interaction you have with them communicates what it’s like to work at your company.”
Other industry leaders agree. In a recent ERE article, “Recruiting the Hunger Games Way,” Doug Douglas wrote, “So much of recruiting today is creating a job description with an unending list of bullet points and communicating what the company demands of the candidate. Very little emphasis is placed on telling the candidate about the company—what it does, why it does it, what impact it makes, and the causes that company supports. Once a company can have interested parties visualize themselves working there, the battle has been won.”
There are a number of ways to help students envision themselves at your company. Bring in a recent grad to tell their story in person, or if that’s not feasible, create a short video to show during your presentation. If your company is active on social media, choose a few recent photos or posts to show what’s going on “behind the curtains” both on the recruiting team and at your company in general.
Info sessions have the potential to build your brand on campus and get students genuinely excited about working for you. Just remember to apply the lessons from these industry experts and your recruiting story can have its own fairytale ending.
The next step: Come up with your action plan for your next round of info sessions. What adjustments can you make to improve the timing, promotion, and content of your session?