Is University Recruiting Right for You? 3 Ways to Tell


Here at AfterCollege, we can get a bit obsessed with university recruiting. It just so happens that a lot of our business revolves around it. So it’s only natural that when we come up with these blog posts, we generally imagine that you’ve already decided to invest in university recruiting.

But what if that’s not the case? Let’s say that you’re just at the stage of thinking about whether or not you should start a university recruiting program. Or maybe you’re pretty sure that it’s a good idea, but you need to get approval from upper management in order to secure funding for your university recruiting program.

With today’s post, we decided to take a step back and start at the beginning.

We asked some organizations that already have robust programs why they bother with university recruiting in the first place.

We’ve distilled their answers and put them together in the form of three simple questions you can ask yourself. This little quiz will help you evaluate whether it makes sense for your organization to invest in university recruiting.

1. Are you planning to hire new employees in the future?

Part of the importance (and the challenge!) of a university recruiting program is that it allows/forces you to think in the long term. Sure, you know that you need an account manager now, but which positions will you need filled next year? The year after that?

Once you know that you will have a need for certain positions and you’re able to anticipate those needs with some regularity, it makes sense to invest in university recruiting.

And just in case you need any extra encouragement to focus your efforts on colleges, consider the fact that by 2025, Generation Y will make up 75% of the workforce.

People in the university recruiting world (and we’re no exception here) love the term “talent pipeline,” which generally refers to all the amazing students who are not quite ready to be hired, but will be in the coming months or years.

You don’t have to just take our word for it, though. Shawn VanDerziel, Chief Human Resources Officer at The Field Museum, puts it this way, “A University Relations program is essential to ensure a pipeline of talent for the future. With a strategy in place, you will have the contacts and pool of candidates to fill critical needs.”

Recruiting on campuses also gives you the opportunity to get your brand out there to a much wider audience. Chris Lesser, Lead of AOL Talent Sourcing Programs, explains, “Our recruiters have the opportunity to hit a very large number of students/post-grads at once during on-campus recruiting efforts.”

Consider all the students that you could come into contact with at career fairs, info sessions, and other on-campus events. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll hire all of them (or even a large percentage of them), but if you give them a positive experience and impression of your brand, they’ll be inclined to remember that and pass that information on to their friends, classmates, siblings, etc. So university recruiting allows you to expand your reach much further than when you hire only experienced candidates.

2. Would you like your employees to stick around for a while?

One year. That’s the average length of time employees stick around at Amazon and Google, according to a Business Insider article.

Would you like to keep your employees for longer than 12 months?

If so, investing in a university recruiting program can be a great way to accomplish that.

Companies that have strong mentorship or development programs for new hires and strong policies of promoting within the company find that this combination of factors leads to a stronger sense of company loyalty and long-term employee retention.

Dan Black, Director of Americas Recruiting at EY, puts it this way: “You are ingraining culture and values early on in employees’ careers. When you’re able to have someone ‘grow up’ and be mentored, you have the opportunity to build allegiance to the firm and teams.”

Chris Lesser of AOL agrees: “University recruiting gives us the opportunity to cultivate great young talent into full-time AOL employees and grow them within our company.”

3. Is your organization looking for new ideas and up-to-the-minute expertise?

A wise man once said, “Life moves pretty fast.” Sure, his name might’ve been Ferris Bueller and he might’ve been making that statement back in 1986, but it still holds true today.

Technology, laws, regulations, and just good, old progress are happening pretty quickly, and college students have the advantage of dedicating the majority of their time to learning, so everything is fresh in their minds.

Dan Black of EY elaborates, “You are getting people that are learning and knowledgeable in the very latest pronouncements, guidance, regulations, and developments in their respective fields. This cutting-edge, latest and greatest information helps to reinvigorate the company.”

So there you have it—the case for university recruiting straight from some of the experts. We hope these questions and our answers will help you determine whether or not it makes sense for your organization to pursue a university recruiting program.

The next step: If you happen to decide you would like to pursue a university recruiting program, we’ve got plenty of advice and resources to help you get started. Check out our upcoming webinars. Each quarter we cover a range of topics like branding, scholarships, and on-campus events.


2 Responses to “Is University Recruiting Right for You? 3 Ways to Tell”

  1. Larry

    I just read your post and I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I debated whether or not to comment but here are my thoughts. University Relations and College Recruiting is a very complicated and competitive undertaking. The ultimate goal is to identify and hire new college grads that meet or exceed the requirements of an individual company. I think that the place to begin when discussing new college grads is to define what one is because I think that your post contributes to the misconception that a new college grad is young and has limited experience. Unless it has recently changed, the universally accepted definition of a new college grad is: Someone who has received their most recent degree within the past 12 months. That definition would include professionals with multiple years of industry experience who returned to school to earn an MS, MBA, or other degree.

    There is a distinct and profound difference between implementing a university relations program and recruiting new college grads – the former requires intent, investment, and commitment while the latter only requires a job opening and the desire to hire a college kid. If you believe the statistic that small companies account for 85% of the hiring in the U.S., then you have to agree that many of these small firms are already engaged in recruiting new college grads. The critical consideration becomes (at some point in time) when to “formalize” the process and “formulate” cohesive strategies – a.k.a. implement a university relations program. When a company reaches that stage in their growth and development there are two questions that need to be asked and answered: Why College? Why Now? In other words, why do we need to formalize something that we have already been doing, and why do we need to formalize it now? The answers to those two questions will guide you in determining when the time is right.

    As you mentioned, the information (opinions) that you provided comes from large companies with existing robust programs – they are already believers and practitioners. The larger audience (and perspective clients to target) would have benefited more from examples of companies on the threshold of making the decision of whether or not to implement a formalized university relations program, and some of the factors that they are considering in their process.

    In the final analysis, I just wasn’t sold on your presentation and justifications for implementing a university relations program.

    • Melissa Suzuno

      Hi Larry, thank you for taking the time to read our post and to leave your thoughtful comment. You make a good point that the term “recent graduate” does not necessarily mean “inexperienced” since that term can also apply to advanced degree holders.

      We felt that it made the most sense to ask for input from organizations that already have robust university recruiting programs, but appreciate your suggestion that it could also be worthwhile to discuss this topic with employers at different points on the university recruiting spectrum.


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