Recruiting on College Campuses During COVID-19

Often, the majority of attention around college recruiting is allotted to students and recruiters. And while they do make up a large part of that equation, listening only to them will give you just a portion of the picture.

College career center professionals have actionable insights for both students and recruiters. We sat down with (and by sat down with, we mean zoomed with) Marc Goldman, the executive director of Career Engagement at Gettysburg College.

Goldman has nearly three decades of experience with College Career development.

He knows what recruiters are doing right.

What they’re doing wrong.

What students are looking for.

And what they’re NOT looking for.

And he knows how all of that has been changed by COVID-19.

For recruiters and for students.

The biggest change?

Virtual recruiting is not some passing fancy, it’s here to stay.


Well, it benefits recruiters, colleges and students.

It’s a win-win-win.

Goldman said that Gettysburg College had been considering getting rid of job fairs altogether-- even before COVID-19 came along.

“As a small liberal arts college, geographically not in an urban center, from an ROI perspective, bang for your buck, recruiters might not pick us as a place to go.”

Now, with the option to go virtual, recruiters are changing how they approach campus recruiting and broadening their horizons.

“They’re following this sort of agnostic recruiting philosophy, ‘it doesn’t matter what school you’re from, we’re open to good candidates’ type of thing.”

With the option to recruit virtually, recruiters can target schools they may have passed on in the past. They can focus on getting the right candidates for their open positions regardless of the size or location of the school.

COVID-19 has certainly impacted things on the recruiter side, changing priorities and opening up new opportunities. But how has COVID-19 impacted students and their response to recruiting efforts? What is important to students, has it changed and how can recruiters adjust their preferences?

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused many students to miss out; on job opportunities, internships and life in general.

Students want to jump back in to make up for lost time.

Recruiters should recognize that and offer more opportunities to students while they’re still in school, said Goldman, “whether they’re real or virtual, that would be super helpful.”

Whether due to the pandemic or just inherent in the values of Gen Z, communication is also very important.

Goldman emphasized the importance of recruiters listening to what students have to say, responding to their inquiries and making sure students are heard.

“Have those conversations: you might be surprised at what you learn, or what you can gain as a company.”

Goldman said that students often become frustrated at the lack of response from recruiters and can become disheartened with no response from recruiting professionals.

“You’ll hear, ‘I’ve reached out to 20 people on LinkedIn and I’ve gotten no response’… So part of it is us working with the students on their end and figuring out why they may not be getting responses based on what they’re doing. But at the same time I think recruiters are so busy…that they might not be able to respond. So they should try and make it part of their day, put it in their daily schedule to respond to students. It would go a long way for their company I think! Even if they don’t hire the student eventually. The fact that they responded can certainly make a difference.”

We’ve heard it now from multiple sources in the higher education field: COMMUNICATION IS KEY. Students value transparency and want to know that you’ll value their time. Often, they use your communication, or lack thereof, to discern what working at your company would be like.

Being ghosted by a recruiter is certainly something that would turn a student off from your company long-term.

On the other side of that, students don’t want to be pestered.

“Some students really don’t like aggressive companies who are unsolicited, bothering them or trying to talk them into things that they don’t really want to do or aren’t that interested in. Maybe we should have a more nuanced approach…” said Goldman.

So now that we know what students are looking for, is that all?

Not in the slightest.

There is one crucial slice of the pie that we’ve missed.

Recruiters will need to foster relationships with key professionals in career services to be successful at a college or university.

“Don’t skip the career center. Don’t work around the career center. Many companies just want to inroad right to the students…Collaborating with some crucial offices on campus— that can help connect you with the right people, that can advise you about our student body and our culture, that can provide direct marketing to students, that can provide direct marketing to faculty, that can provide avenues to connect with the students and make your job potentially easier,” said Goldman.

These are just some of the insights we heard from speaking with Goldman, a veteran in the industry.

These things aren’t set in stone.

Constant change is what excites Goldman about the field:

“I find it is ever-evolving and changing— just our conversation alone gets me excited. Seeing young professionals, who are trying to contribute in some more innovative and different ways to our field is wonderful. It makes me happy. And knowing that our field is needing to do things like this and seeing it change in these ways, both makes sense to me and is what makes it interesting. That’s why I’m still doing this.”

Goldman is a career counseling professional and administrator with 25+ years experience in the field; work settings have included state college, community college, large university, and small college institutions.

You might also like
these new related posts

If you’re interested to view all our blog posts, click here.