I have a seemingly silly question for you. Who do you trust more as a leader: J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series) or Queen Elizabeth, II? Got your answer? Good.
Shane Snow, journalist and author of Smartcuts, asked 3,000 people that very question. And who won, by a landslide victory? J.K. Rowling. Yep, most people said that they’d trust the author who introduced us to Harry Potter and Hogwarts rather than the actual monarch of the United Kingdom.
Why is this? Shane suggests that it’s because most people feel like they know J.K. Rowling much more than they know Queen Elizabeth. And why do we feel that way? It all comes down to one simple concept: storytelling. By reading J.K. Rowling’s stories—no matter how fantastic and removed from reality they may be—we feel that we understand her, know what matters to her, and therefore trust her.
This little anecdote about J.K. Rowling vs. Queen Elizabeth demonstrates how stories have the power to bring people together. But what does all this have to do with university recruiting?
As a university recruiter, your job is twofold: you need to find the students and recent grads who are a good fit for your company (the “recruiting” part), but you also need to sell your brand to potential applicants (the “marketing” part).
Content marketing is all about creating things like blog posts, videos, ebooks, and webinars that help answer a question or solve a pain point. In your case, as a university recruiter, you want to help college students and recent grads understand what it’s like to apply and work for your company and determine whether they’d be a good fit. And the best way to do that is to tell the stories of other recent college graduates and how they found a place at your organization.
Let’s take a look at a few ways companies are using content marketing to attract college students and recent grads—and what you can learn from them.
A blog is an easy way to get started in the storytelling/content marketing game. You can choose one person from your university recruiting or marketing team to oversee the project and then get interns and new hires involved. The key is to allow people to write posts that share their stories and experiences in their own voices. Think of it this way—would you rather read a dry press release or an honest account of a student’s experience on a particular project? The answer should be pretty obvious here.
Here are a few examples of companies that are using blogs to attract college students.
If anyone understands the importance of content marketing, it’s LinkedIn. This professional social network regularly publishes posts by industry “influencers” and has recently opened up the platform for any of its members to write and publish posts to share their industry expertise.
And when it comes to attracting and recruiting college students, The LinkedIn Intern Blog is an excellent example. They regularly publish brief but informative accounts of what it’s like to intern there.
Some recent posts include:
The folks running the Stryker Interns Blog understand that a blog is an excellent platform for answering questions that potential applicants have about interning or working for your company.
Remember that as a university recruiter, you’re in a position that most marketers can only dream of—you have direct access to job-seekers (AKA your “customers”). You meet them at career fairs and on-campus events. You read their cover letters. You interview them. All these interactions give you a unique perspective into their questions and concerns. You can use this information to create meaningful blog posts and other content.
Some recent posts include:
Stryker Summer (one intern’s reflection on her time at Stryker)
Video is another great way to get started with content marketing. It’s the ideal format for providing a glimpse into life at your company. For a lot of students and recent grads, the working world is a big mystery, and this is your opportunity to demystify it a bit and help them see that you hire people just like them—and give them really cool projects to work on.
Here are some examples of video content used to attract college students.
Anyone who loves reality TV shows like Project Runway or The Hills should enjoy “The Intern” series of videos from Wet Seal. This series features two interns—one high schooler and one college student—who are brought on for the summer to work for this fashion brand. The interns frantically struggle to put mannequins together, commiserate over trying to learn the bajillion types of sweater folds, and get a crash course in sales and customer service during their time at a retail store.
You can see that some of the tasks are genuinely difficult and push the interns out of their comfort zones, but you also get a good sense of the types of projects interns at Wet Seal are asked to complete and the type of support they receive.
The videos featured on the Google Students YouTube channel tell the stories of real Google interns. You learn where they’re from, how they ended up at Google, and what types of projects they’ve been working on over the summer.
These videos work because they’re not just about Google as an impersonal entity, but about the living, breathing people who are interning and working there.
These examples show you some of the things that are possible when it comes to content marketing in a university recruiting context. Remember that the key to success is all about telling a story and making your company more accessible to young job-seekers.
The next step: Are you thinking about dabbling with content marketing in your department? Check out our interview with branding expert Tracey Parsons that offers advice on how you can get started. We also covered some of these topics in our recent webinar on content marketing and university recruiting. Watch a recording of it here.