Campus Recruiting... The Student Perspective

The arrival of a global pandemic forced many inside. Establishments shuttered, classrooms closed and homes transformed into offices.

The pandemic forced a shift in how we thought about things. Small things like handshakes and blowing out birthday candles, but also why we work, how we work and how that is likely to change.

Recruiting was no exception.

COVID-19 forced recruiters to launch headfirst into an uncertain situation. This is especially true for campus recruiters.

As the pandemic seems to be dying down (in the United States, at least), the question college recruiters should be asking is what should stay and what should go?

It’s hard to answer that question on your own.

We want to help.

Who better to weigh in on how to recruit college students, than a college student herself: Rubyjoy Pikes.

Pikes is a junior studying graphic design at Portland State University. She was recently featured at the NACE21 conference (National Association of Colleges and Employers). She participated in a panel for recruiters to discover actionable recruiting insights.

We chatted with Pikes to learn how recruiters can better engage college students.

We outlined five key takeaways from our chat that should give you better insight into what college students are looking for.

Always Be Connecting: Gen Z students value connection. Pikes zeroed in on this as an integral aspect of any campus recruiting strategy. So what does this mean for you? Even if you are running a virtual campaign, you can’t be hands-off about it. “We love knowing that we’re special and knowing that it is a real person behind the screen. That was one of the biggest issues with being online, a lot of the emails were very robot-y. Personalization, letting them know who you are and what you’re doing is probably one of the most important things...” said Pikes. While Gen Z is often recognized for their technological savvy, that's not all they value. They expect you to treat them with respect, not another email address on your list.

Transparency and Clarity: “Especially last year... there was just something about the job boards and the job postings that were just really not working... A lot of them are super misleading and confusing. One of the things that everyone in my generation can agree on is that it is super difficult to look through job postings. The title says beginner or entry-level and then you go and apply for it and it has this list of qualifications that you need.” Make sure your job postings are clear, accurate and specific. Students want to get an idea of what it will be like to work for your company from the job post. And more than that, students judge your company based on the job post and application process. “If they have job postings that are very vague and non-specific, I’m probably not going to apply, just because I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into,” said Pikes. She expects recruiters to stick by what they say. When recruiters give candidates a timeline that they don’t stick to, students have misgivings about signing on with that company.

What are you looking for? : “...Going out of college I would love to find a job that I’m passionate about, but, in reality, that’s not going to happen [laughs].” Pikes said that salary is crucial to her, but it’s not paramount, there are other factors to consider. Whereas two years ago remote-work may not have been a consideration, now it is a must-have option. “...It actually almost makes people work harder because they’re in the comfort of their own home, they’re able to relax more, not be as stressed with commutes. Remote is a huge thing moving forward,” said Pikes.

Social Media Matters (Even if you’re not Recruiting There): Pikes says that many students use social media to look for open positions. But she mostly uses social media to pinpoint what a company is all about. “Social media is one of those things where you kind of just want to be entertained. It could literally be the most boring stuff in the world. If you find a way to make it entertaining, I’m like 'oh if that job can do this with social media, I wonder how they can take something that might not be as fun when I’m working with them and turn it into something that would be really interesting to learn about and engage with.'”

Students are eager to connect, now more than ever. Do yourself a favor and connect with them! It doesn’t have to be something elaborate. You don’t have to roll out the red carpet for each candidate. Have a quick conversation. You can even send an automated email to let them know you haven’t forgotten about them! Treat students with the respect they deserve and you’ll get a long way.

Special thanks to RubyJoy Pikes for her invaluable insights into student recruiting.

RubyJoy Pikes is an upcoming junior at Portland State University studying graphic design. She currently works for Newbridge Marketing Group, a college marketing agency, where she engages closely with college recruiters to give them a student perspective, as well as picking up any design related tasks when needed. In RubyJoy’s free time, she enjoys traveling, thrift shopping and trying new foods wherever possible.

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