Campus Recruiting Evolved: From Info-Sessions to Professor Contacts
An important part of any university recruiting team’s jobs is to build a brand on core campuses across the country. Whether you are hiring technical, business, design or other talent, having direct ties to universities that routinely provide intern and student hires that fit in well at your company is key. That being said campus recruiting is a constantly evolving sphere of university recruiting. While in the past this activity has typically been dominated by career fairs, info-sessions, and campus interviews—more recently companies have been working on building relationships with student clubs, professors, and doing other more creative campus branding campaigns to expand reach outmaneuver the competition for the best talent.
Today’s focus is on campus recruiting, which is a really, really large component of most intern programs. A majority of companies that have 10 or more interns do go on campus. For many companies, take CBS Interactive who hires about 70 interns a year, they do 95% of that through their campus recruiting program. A vast majority come through 10 or 11 core campuses that they recruit at year in, year out, and have developed really strong relationships with.
So for most of you this is a really, really essential part of your process. The goal of this event today is look at what works well, what are some best practices in traditional campus recruiting and then what are some new ideas that we see happening on campus that maybe you can be taking advantage of if you aren’t already, in terms of doing unique event types for partnering with clubs or doing some other more specific campaigns to help really broaden the scope of your intern program and find even better students.
Lastly, I had mentioned here that the title is “Finding the Right Students,” and certainly the goal for any campus recruiting process I think is you’re getting much more specific, you’re saying, “Here are the universities we’ve worked with in the past. We know these students, and they fit well with our company culture.” It’s less of a broad push than a job posting might be, and it’s much more specific and targeted in trying to find exactly the kind of student who’s going to fit your company and culture.
As I start all these sessions, we’re going to do a quick background and Looksharp and then talk about career fairs, campus clubs, and info sessions re-imagined. A really short background on us is that we started in 2009. We’re incredibly dedicated and driven to helping students find incredible opportunities regardless of their background, so finding these opportunities online. We work with about 700 schools and about half a million students come visit the site a month, and so that’s where we get a lot of background information on this whole intern placement process.
On top of that we’ve hired over 50 interns at our company, so probably a lot less than some of you but at the same time we’ve done lots of different career fairs, from Stanford’s Computer Forum to University of Washington non-profit fair, and we have partaken in different events and have used these tools trying to find our own interns and gain a lot of these insights.
Jumping into the career fairs section, this is going to be the bulk of what we talk about today because it is, for most of the organizations we work with, probably the most important part of their entire intern recruiting process. The first thing I want to run through is just the different types of career fairs that exist, and what average cost might be. On this first slide, we’re just looking at standard cost of admittance and not looking at flight costs, hotel costs, costs of swag and all of those other elements that go into budgeting out what a career fair might cost.
That being said, depending on the type of students you’re looking for there are definitely a big variance in costs. The average career fair is going to cost anywhere from 500 to $1,000, usually just to save the table. That sometimes seats two people, but sometimes it only seats one person. There’s definitely sometimes some small additional costs, $50 for an outlet charge, some do charge for lunch, most provide it for free, but this is the ballpark you’re looking at that’s fairly standard.
A lot of schools now are starting to promote industry-specific career fairs. These are definitely useful because it reduces the spam that you’re going to see when you’re talking to students and introducing yourself, and making sure that your time is most efficient. Tagged into these is a lot of really high variance and overall cost, so something that’s really interesting is that some of these more niche and high in-demand industries will have much, much more expensive career fairs. Ranging up into 10 to $15,000 for a single career fair is not entirely uncommon.
Some notable examples of this are Stanford’s Computer Forum. To attend that event you have to really become a sponsor of the event. The cost is generally in the 10 to 15k range to participate, which is really, really expensive. Obviously, considering that for most companies this is a primary tool to make first intern hires and then full-time hires, and that engineers are some of the most in-demand roles coming out of college, for many companies the price is justified. At that specific fair you’ll see everyone from Salesforce to Google and Facebook and much smaller startups, but the cost can be really high for those engineering fairs.
The same is true for MBA fairs. Looking at some of the top five MBA programs, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School costs can be from 7k to 15k, depending on different add-ons and packages you take going into the fair. The key point here is that a general career fair, where you’re going to see a really wide range of student specific, there you’ll see everyone from [inaudible 00:05:57] a wide range of grades and background will be not super-expensive, but once you get into a very, very specific engineering and MBA program that is quite expensive.
Next up is just a quick look at the non-profit career fairs. Those are typically much less expensive. Something I’ve never seen companies do but I would be very interesting in seeing if it was an effective strategy would be … I know a lot of larger corporate programs do have a non-profit component to their work. Salesforce has a charitable fund, Deloitte and a lot of bigger consulting firms have charitable arms that they manage and run. I think it would be interesting to see if there’s a good way to recruit high-quality students through the non-profit career fairs that campuses do run, given that those are much cheaper and also a lot of students are very interested in the intersection of non-profit work and larger corporate roles that they’re still exploring.
The number three here on this list is the diversity career fair, which is a newer type of career fair. That one is becoming increasingly common. What’s interesting about diversity career fairs is that they’re … they’re really not very different in terms of general career fairs in terms of structure or cost, and they’re mostly driven by the school who runs them.
We were recently spending time at the Berkeley Diversity Career Fair and participated in that. The general response from recruiters at the Berkeley Career Fair was that they weren’t seeing the type of diverse students that they were really expecting to see at that event and that it was a smaller turnout than other career fairs they have been to. The note of caution with any new form of career fair is that a lot of times schools are still working out best ways to promote this to their students on campus and how to get the ideal turnout that they want. Just because it was dubbed as diversity, it didn’t mean that it was necessarily a … it was still open to everyone at the school and it wasn’t a fully … highly diverse audience at that particular career fair.
This has just been a quick look at the prices. The other element that I didn’t put on there but that is also starting to bubble up is virtual career fairs. I think that those weren’t a totally unique discussion, but they are interesting because as you’ll see in a later slide the major cost for career fairs particularly comes in travel and putting employees up in hotels. So the virtual career fair is a … they’re becoming more improved and it’s another route to connect to students that forgoes having to do an on-the-ground presence.
Here’s a quick rundown, and as far as something that we recommend to anyone who’s … whether you’re doing the recruiting yourself or if you’re managing a team, if you’re managing a team it’s really a fantastic thing to do is to provide your team with all the ingredients they need to be really happy, high-energy and successful while on campus. Because as you know, if you had attended one of these events it’s usually four to six hours non-stop connecting with students, pitching your company and sharing more information about your intern or full-time programs. It’s definitely a very tiring and important event, and so I think that from a management perspective having a package to send all your campus recruiters off with that gives them everything they need to really stay high energy and deliver the best message while on campus is super helpful, so just a little idea there.
Here are some of the things that we see people putting into some of these baskets or sort of recruiting survival kits that someone can take to campus. The first thing is obviously you want to have the campus map. You want to have that scheduled out and know exactly where you’re trying to get to. These aren’t always mobile friendly, so printing one out is a generally good idea. They’re not always super, super easy to use, so again just reviewing it beforehand is generally quite helpful.
It’s just important to get in before the career fair sets up, because if you’re running a bit late it sends a bad signal to students. The beginning portion of the career fair is usually when you have a lot of students who are most fresh coming into the career fair. A lot of really fantastic conversations can be had in the early hour, so getting there on time is absolutely critical.
Next, snacks. Anything that’s sort of energy inducing; Clif bars are awesome so to bring with on the career fair. Most career fairs will provide lunch and kind of food, but it’s usually more on the cookie and sugary sweet side of things. It’s always just helpful to have something that’s healthy. Most recruiters will appreciate that if you provide them with that. Hand sanitizer is a must, you’re going to be shaking hands all day long, enough said on that one. Super comfy shoes, water bottle and breath mints are all good little goodies to include as well in this process.
Something that a lot of people forget are cell phone chargers. Sometimes outlets are a commodity. Because a lot of these career fairs do take place in big auditoriums, there’s going to be limited outlet space. So just bringing USB chargers and some other phone chargers is helpful, because you will be there all day and it’s easy to run out.
Lastly I put on here business cards, obviously that’s important for giving out to students. The other big hint here is that career fairs are an exceptional time to meet with students, and that’s got to be your number one goal. We’ll talk about some goal setting tactics for the career fair.
It’s also a really uniquely valuable time to go and meet other recruiters. It’s highly recommended that you do some time networking with other people who are either in your industry or in related industries. Because recruiting obviously, as you know, is a very people-driven business. If you’re recruiting students and you have a good network of other recruiters, a lot of fantastic hires are made that way through sharing contact and feedback on different students. I think one missed component of a lot of career fairs is going out and actually networking with people from other companies around you. I think that’s a hint that is important to keep in mind when you’re sort of also being bombarded with a lot of students.
Another question that we get a lot from employers is what resonates most with students, what are students actually enjoying? Because I know companies like Salesforce we speak to and they spend two to $5000 on swag per campus, which is a really large amount of money being invested but it’s also a branding component. The number one reason that most companies do go to career fairs is to build their brand and stay top of mind in students when they’re applying, and so the swag part of this process might seem superfluous but it’s actually quite important.
Our general recommendation is two-fold: One is to pick swag that reflects your culture, so don’t just take what everyone else is doing. Don’t do pens and koozies, although those aren’t terrible things to give away, they’re useful to students. Ones that I like most are something like a Rubik’s Cube that maybe reflects if you have a very engineering heavy culture. You can brand a Rubik’s Cube and hand those out. Also, students hold on to those for a very long time and it does showcase a type of culture that your company prefers, so that’s a great way to go.
Based on a survey that we ran to a few hundred thousand students, other top piece of the swag that they look for are … everyone like T-shirts, but those are obviously generally more expensive. One piece of advice on T-shirts is always go for the American Apparel style that is actually comfortable for students to wear. Giving away T-shirts that are itchy and uncomfortable is never recommended. It’s actually the opposite what you want to be doing for your brand. If you’re going to go for some of these swag options, I always say just skew towards something that’s going to be really well received by students and don’t go on the cheap side or it’ll send the wrong message.
Many people have started giving these away, I’m not sure your company has yet but it’s worth checking into. These are iHorns. They’re like little rubber attachments that students can play out on the college green and it amplifies the sound of their iPhone. So look for iHorns, those are really awesome. At the recent career fair that I went to at The University of Georgia, the most popular item by far was Chipotle burritos. The company there split them in half, and I think just the smell of Chipotle brought a huge, huge number of students to their booth. Definitely thinking a little bit outside the box there, and it was definitely a cool piece of swag that got a lot of students coming by their table.
Another one that’s a little bit more expensive but also popular is phone chargers. Again, it’s something that is highly useful. Everyone loses their iPhone charger, so if you can hand those out those are definitely well received. A last one that students basically gave us feedback on that they said was really cool at some of their recent career fairs was they saw this wind up boogie robot that was a dancing robot. It’s a little bit different, a little bit fun and something memorable.
I think it’s worth brainstorming with your team before your next series of career fairs on what actually reflects your company’s culture, and what might be fun and different that you can provide at your table.
Ultimately, it sort of depends on the competition level of the career fair. Again I’m going to keep referencing Stanford, but at Stanford’s career fair it’s a very expensive engineering career fair and highly competitive. Top companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars to be there, and so the competition among swag goes up.
Just recently at this last career fair one company actually commissioned a food truck to sit outside of the career fair that they branded and used that as a way to meet and greet students as they were coming in and out. Just a totally different and really guerilla grassroots approach to recruiting, but if there’s a particular campus that you feel is really critical to you it’s sometimes worth bringing those bigger guns out.
Next is getting into some more tactical pieces of how to make sure that you’re maximizing your career fairs. That first five, we have some do’s and don’ts, and a lot of these come directly from students. I’ll mention more, the sort of in-depth student responses that we’ve had for these different specifics.
The first one is really, really obvious but really important and something to convey to your entire university team. The goal of a career fair is never to sit back and wait. You’ll get one-third to a quarter as many resumes if you’re doing that versus being very proactive and reaching out to students. Standing in front of your table and having a really open and approachable look to your table is way different.
Some of the other things that kind of go along with this is we see oftentimes recruiters on their phones while they’re … there isn’t anyone in front of their table, and it just sends the wrong message to students. If you’re texting or emailing or doing whatever, whatever it is, if you are going to do that I definitely recommend just walking around the corner and not doing it and giving off the vibe that you’re not interested in hearing from students.
Also another faux pas that I’ve heard from a number of students complain about is when they get to a career fair they bring their resume, which all their career advisor instruct them to do, they try to turn it in and a recruiter will say that you can’t turn in your resume here, you have to go online and apply.
I know there’s a lot of very good reasons for consolidating applications into ATS, but it is really, really important to accommodate students who are there and have a paper resume and sort of fitting that into your system. Because that sort of what the expectation is, and a lot of students will get turned off or not remember where to go and apply if they can’t do it on the spot. You’re just missing such a big opportunity by not allowing resumes to be accepted at the table.
Another don’t is ask the same generic questions. That was actually the number one pet peeve we heard back from students at career fairs, that they hear the same question over and over again. Some of the questions, you know, “What are you studying, what are you majoring in,” very good warm-up questions and obviously important, but I would go out of your way to create a company-specific question that you think is different and will help you stand out. I’ll give you one example.
One company that we spoke with, they like to ask students to take two minutes and think about a topic that they were very excited about that either had to do with work or didn’t at all, and to come back and give them a one-minute explanation of how that topic worked. Just a really cool way to bond with students to learn about their hobby, see if they’re a good cultural fit for their company, and it’s a really novel question they use during the career fair to showcase that they as a company were someone who likes to dig beneath the surface and get to know students.
That’s what students are getting at with just don’t ask the same generic questions. They really want to get to know you as a person, you as a company. By asking just the same questions over and over again it makes it a tedious process, and they feel a bit robotic and you might feel a little bit robotic too.
Next don’t, come late and leave early. That just sends a really negative messages to students that you’re not valuing their time. Given how much money goes into this process, making sure to get in on time, that you get set up and sort of be ready to go and ready for game time is really critical.
Lastly, there’s so many funny stories that we hear from different recruiters about meeting students who may not be prepared or might be dressed in really non-professional work clothing. We also get the same stories back from the students who will say that a particular recruiter just wasn’t dressed to impress or didn’t seem … or wasn’t well shaven, and that sent the really wrong message too to them as a student.
So it’s a definitely two-way street, how you present yourself at a career fair. You represent your company there, so always skew on the side of being a little bit formal and polished. That being said, we’ve heard a lot of companies, especially for engineering career fairs, they’re shifting into jeans and being dressed down a bit and trying to show off what it actually looks like to work at their company, which I think is totally awesome and perfect to do. Just the point there is send the brand and message that you really want reflected through how you dress and how you present yourself at the career fair.
Here’s a few do’s that I think are really novel and not everyone does, but that can be really helpful for your growing program. If you’re able to do it, you should email every single student the day after career fair. It shows a really quick response time, it shows that you’re engaged and interested. Thank them for their time and stopping by, and if possible include a brief survey that they can fill out about how their experience was at your table so you can start to continue to improve and get better results.
One thing that we’re seeing more of is companies being extremely data-driven with their career fair process, understanding how resumes they typically get a given year at a school and how it fluctuates over time and how that leads to how many different hires. The survey is a really basic thing to include, but it’s extremely valuable in getting the feedback that will help you move your data in the right direction. A couple of tools that you can use to do the survey, just most recommended would be to use SurveyMonkey, which is really an inexpensive professional app that you can get online.
After doing on-campus interviews, it’s really critical also to start things up the very next day so that the student doesn’t get booked and that you can really hit the ground running the next day with your on-campus interviews. A quick note about on-campus interviews, while a lot of companies pay sizeable amounts of money to do on-campus interviews directly with the university by either buying a sponsorships through the career center or going a different route to reserve those rooms, that process can be really, really expensive.
If you’re a smaller startup company or a non-profit and you want to really speed up the process of going to the career fair and then getting hires, you might want to make your trip an overnight trip. Then rather than booking in the interview room, you can actually run your interview at the local coffee shop or find the quietest place on town. You can usually use Yelp to find that.
Then it’s a very casual environment, and some students will really appreciate that. That way you can go from being at the career fair, identifying if you had really high-promise candidates, setting up interviews by email the next morning and having a few interviews at coffee shops that evening and almost be ready to make formal offers by the time you’re back home the week after.
Then here at the very bottom, just a basic formula you should be tracking at any career fair. These are a few basic stats you should track at every career fair: number of conversations or number of resumes collected. Sometimes you’ll collect the resume of every conversation, sometimes it’s just number of conversations. Then you should look at what percent of these conversations or resumes converted over to an offer, and then figure out how many hires you made that given year. Then you can really start to benchmark for future years.
If you want to say, “Okay, we want to double the number of hires we made last year, therefore maybe we need double the number of conversations or maybe we need to make offers to more of our resumes and reduce our standards to that school a little bit.”
Basically once you start seeing these three numbers, that’s when you can really start benchmarking your career fair efficiency and value, and start looking at it from a cost-driven perspective as well to understand which career fairs are most valuable for you. For smaller companies you can track all that in an Excel spreadsheet pretty easily, and just look at some year-over-year changes in terms of conversations, offers and hires per school.
This is the other slide that I want to talk about in terms of career fair cost. Yes, most companies will have two different categories of universities that they work with. They have their core colleges which are usually colleges that there made a concrete effort to build a relationship with over a number of years, and then pilot schools or maybe any given year you’re trying to see what happens if you go to a very new school and maybe there’s some value in trying out expanding your college efforts to new campuses.
When it comes to core schools though, ones that you plan to go for many years and build relationships at and have those be key campuses that you want to hire lots of students from, there’s two different factors taking place. You can pick local schools, which might not always be as focused on your industry, potentially less prestigious and potentially less of a good fit, but by being so local you can do some additional tactics to really get the most out of them. Or, do you go after further away schools?
This is some back of the envelope costs that in speaking to a number of companies about how much their career fairs end up costing, this is why local is such an important part of any strategy is because the cost is really, really high for long-distance recruiting fairs.
An average consulting company will usually take four employees with them to any given career fair and they’ll usually stay for four nights. The reason why most companies will stay for four nights is that they will do either an info session ahead of the career fair or two days of interviews after the career fair. You can see that the cost just quickly adds up. You have four people going to the fair itself, costing around from two to $4000. You have four nights of a hotel room costing $1600. On top of that, food and other just daily charges. Then you’ll have flights, swag and optional sponsorships.
One other thing I put down here was an optional dinner. Some companies, depending on your culture … A leading tech consultant firm called Palantir, their culture is very driven towards … they really like to have a high-end culture with students who … they like to showcase that they really take care of their new hires. At every career fair that they go to they all invite top candidates out for dinner and drinks that can run upwards of a $100 per student invited. So you can see how that type of event can both be very valuable for sealing the deal on top candidates, but also be very expensive.
I think that all these costs help showcase why these events are really, really important but also why it’s worth exploring local campus events that maybe you can take more advantage of through working with clubs, through developing really close career centered relationships where you might just email out students, and through other tactics that maybe are more cost efficient.
Next I’m going to jump into the engaging clubs component of the webinar, and I think this one is one that’s becoming increasingly popular. Companies are finding that students are going to career fairs less. A recent survey a few hundred thousand students that we ran on our site showed that only 26% of students found their career fair at all useful that they last attended. A lot of students that are going to them, they don’t like getting dressed up. It’s kind of the elephant in the room, no one really loves going to career fairs, but they’re essential.
Now just this past year 45% of students were using Google search to find their next internship, which was twice as many of those who were using their career fairs. So there’s definitely a shift in mentality happening among students, where they’re saying to themselves, “Well I’m in the digital era. I use my smartphone all the time. I’m going to sit in class and search internships rather than maybe get dressed up and go to this next career fair.”
With that, it’s imperative that anyone who’s doing campus recruiting and trying to build their brand on campus is thinking about new ways to engage students and really achieve that goal of staying top of mind amongst students who are relevant to you.
Clubs are becoming probably the most popular new channel for hiring students on campus, and there’s a few reasons. One, clubs are often times extremely targeted. This past year we worked at a company called Advanced Energy Economy, who is a leading green energy technology firm based in the Midwest.
They were looking to hire about 20 students for a green fellowship, and they really wanted to engage students on the West Coast but they didn’t have the time or budget to go and fly out to Stanford. We happen to have a really good relationship with the Energy Club at Stanford, which consisted of about 32 students. Through doing a coordinated email to the students, seven applied and AEE ended up hiring four of those seven.
So what it all goes to show is that the volume is significantly less when it comes to student clubs, and they’re still pretty high cost in terms of building relationships, getting to know the student leaders. The student leaders are transitioning very frequently, so it’s staying in touch with the group to know and constantly maintaining that relationship. In terms of a cost per hire perspective and finding the really high qualified students who fit your particular culture and mission, oftentimes clubs are far better and actually they benefit from not having so much noise. You’re not at a career fair where you’re handing out your card and collecting resumes from hundreds of students who would actually never be a really good fit.
Go to any career fair and you’ll see a bunch of people kind of staring beyond each other because they’re in a conversation where both sides know this is not a good fit but they kind of have to talk through it. Whereas you go to a club, you can rest assured that these are generally really well focused students for your company.
The other thing is just in the hiring process we’ve heard more and more companies say that the club experience is really one of the most highly valued components of how they’re evaluating student candidates. It helps in that key piece of telling a story, do they fit in with your company that they took the initiatives to join a club that’s relevant to your business and mission. You’re sort of preselecting the students who are going to do well in your interview process.
Again, this comes back to a good benchmarking process. You should be looking at what source candidates are coming through, whether it’s a career fair or a club or online, and seeing what’s the percent who make it all the way through to full-time hire. Many of the companies that we speak to say that their percent of candidates to hires from the club route is significantly higher than any of their other sources, so another strong compelling reason to think about clubs.
Lastly, clubs are somewhat less competitive. It’s a newer channel for campus recruiting. It’s challenging. It’s usually been the domain of really big companies. You take a Ernst & Young, and they have relationships with not only the vast majority of business and consulting clubs on campuses across the entire country but also a lot of high school level clubs. They’re educating students about their brand, even at the high school level.
Those very large companies, they’ve been using this tactic for a long time, but smaller companies or medium and large, even large companies have found that it’s time consuming and challenging to really master this process. It really is an advocacy of channel now, but it’s looking like this might change in the not so distant future.
A few challenges in working with clubs in different ways that you can work with them. The biggest challenge that I think most companies face when trying to work with clubs is the constant leadership turnover issue. Every year essentially clubs will change leadership, and that’s why using a CRM system, using Salesforce or another tool to manage your relationship with clubs is really, really important. Because you should know when those leadership changes take place.
You should be having phone numbers with the club President so that you can reach out to them and chat with them, and understand who the next leader is and get introduced, and then rebuild from there to make sure that your company is staying top of mind for their students, and so that you can engage them on speaking engagements more easily.
Another challenge comes in the form of initiating a relationship with clubs. A lot of the club websites are out of date. They don’t have emails on them; they might have some general club email. Another college facing company that we worked with did a massive student club email outreach process and reported back about a 4% response rate from cold email to response from clubs. Maybe your company has enough brand awareness that this will be a bit different, but suffice to say that this actually will take a concerted effort to get these relationships started.
Ideally, some places you can turn are your current interns, were they part of the club? Part of the intern process, if you’re hiring 200 interns over the summer you should really be looking to those students to help connect you with the clubs that they’re part of, that they feel like are good relationships for you and your team and helping you navigate this process, because they’re going to be the ones that have the best and most direct contacts on the campus.
Other routes are if you’re an alumni at a school you can actually … you have a much better chance of being able to get in touch with that club; mentioning that in your email to a student club is actually going to increase that email response rate pretty dramatically. Again, it’s just the process of reaching out to a number of different clubs, seeing which ones are a really good fit, and those who do respond building those relationships and maintaining. Once you do have these relationships with clubs they can span for a very long time, and so jumpstarting the process might be intimidating but it’s a worthwhile endeavor to get into.
Lastly, clubs do get the most busy, an added challenge, they’re most busy during career fair season. Lots of companies will be in town presenting at career fairs and trying to figure out how to maximize their time on campus, and so they’ll be turning to clubs. That’s why your early relationships will matter most. Then also just thinking about most clubs or a lot of clubs will have a weekly speaker, so the week of the career fair that’s going to be really hard to get that spot at a club meeting. Other weeks, it’s pretty open and a lot of clubs are actually really thankful to have company speakers come in and talk to their student base. So figuring out if you can reach clubs during their off season, not during career fairs, and do your presentations to build relationships then is a great route to go.
I’ve talked about a few of these solutions about how to build deep relationships with clubs, but just a few other tactics that you might want to consider. Local clubs are always some of easiest to work with because they’re in your backyard. If you’re thinking about schools in your direct area it’s easier to build relationship with clubs, but it’s still not impossible to build relationships if you have to travel to get there. It’s just more phone call and email back and forth.
It’s helpful to know how clubs generally work, so one thing that’s really interesting is that at the beginning of every school year there’s a general club fair on most campuses. So if you are local to a school that works with four or five clubs that you really want to get relationships with, a not bad strategy at all is to actually just go on to campus during the club fair at the beginning of any given semester and talk to … usually the people who are sitting at the tables are the student leaders of that club. All of a sudden you can go from having zero club relationships to having 10 or 15 or 20 really strong relationships that you can then go on and fan and really improve and turn into a recruiting gold mine.
Another aspect of understanding clubs is what are the biggest influence. Most clubs, for them, that is budget. If you’re going to be helpful to their budget you can sponsor T-shirts for them, you can sponsor an event for them. They also are competing for membership. If you’re a larger company and you have a cool office, doing a field trip for that club where they invite their members to your office. One, it’s incredibly good branding for you with an important club. Two, it’s a unique way for their members to experience the professional world that they don’t get at other clubs and it’s a different way for them to hold a meeting. So it’s a really valuable route to go.
Those are just some unique ideas that you can use to attract clubs to your company. The most basic form is to bring food. I cannot over express how big a difference this makes for getting an attendance at any given event. You mentioned students are … never forget, students are poor and starving and always fascinated by getting anything for free. Providing pizza or even if you’re willing to go all out and provide Chipotle or something like that, students will flock to your event and you’ll get a much, much better turnout. That’s sort of a no-brainer, if you’re going to take the time to go and speak at a club event definitely make sure you’re there providing food to get the best possible turnout.
Those are all good things, and then just continue to brainstorm and be creative in working with clubs. I know some of the … computer science clubs, they will get donations, one of them … Microsoft is really famous at their club outreach strategy, so they have … Microsoft has one of the best campus recruiting teams in the world, and they have a recruiter who is responsible for every single campus in the entire country.
At their key campuses they go much deeper, and so University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a top computer science school, and for them building a really strong relationship with the CS club is critical. They’ve done a number of things from donating old pieces of technology that’s really fascinating for that club to tinker and play with and gives their members something fun to use, to actually having a recruiter who is their point person and is always available for students to ask them professional questions and he’s just a valuable advocate for those students.
That individual at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign takes them on field trips, so they do a once a semester, go out and get ice cream with their Microsoft recruiter with their club. That’s a pretty low cost way to build up a fantastic relationship with a group of students who might be 10 times more likely to become a hire than your average career fair attendee.
I’m just hopping into the last session, and it’s looking at info sessions re-imagined, ways to kind of … Info sessions have become extremely, extremely popular for a long time, and for a good reason. As I mentioned before, a NACE, the National Association of College and Employer survey reported back the number one reason that employers go on campus is to build their brand.
Students are new to the professional world, they don’t know about your brand and why you’re unique. If they do know about your brand, they probably know about your consumer brand. If you’re Pixar they know about your movies, they don’t know what kind of diversity programs you have and what kind of fantastic employee perks you offer, and what the trajectory looks like for a new employee and all the things that are actually most important for them to know when they’re making a higher end decision.
Info sessions have become really tied into the campus recruiting process. They’re done either in conjunction with the club, and sometimes they’re sponsored and paid for so the club who makes a profit of that and uses that to help maintain the club for their members. Sometimes those are done through the career centers themselves. If you have really good career center relationships then that can help you put on a very successful info session.
The one most common bit of feedback that I’m getting from recruiters about info sessions is that they’re becoming stale. That student attendance is declining, and that the topics that are discussed they’re usually very similar, and that is probably more so than anything the food is becoming the biggest draw for attendees to these info sessions.
A couple of ways to spice up info sessions, a few just quick ideas on what a lot of companies are already doing. One, the bigger the name of the employee that you’re going to send to go and do your info session about your company the better. Fog Creek is a software company that’s not very well known, but their founder is a guy named Joel Spolsky who is a very, very well known blogger. He does all of the recruiting info sessions for their company. Selecting someone who brings name value and who’s high up within the organization you can speak to him at high level will typically lead to a stronger response rate amongst students.
Next, someone who brings name value and who is … Sorry, there was a little bit of a bug there. In any case, next is just thinking of some other ways to have your info session be innovative. Again, topic matters a lot. If you’re HootSuite can you have an info session about the future of social media as a profession where you don’t really directly address your company and your culture and your intern program and hires you’re going to make, but you could talk about something that’s interesting or valuable for students. Topic matters a ton.
Another component is thinking about doing info sessions online, where students spend a huge, huge portion of their time. Which is cheap and easy for you to set up and to share, and can be probably the most cost effective way to do an innovative info session that gets real engagement from the types of students you want.
There’s a few recommendations on that, Brazen Careerist, they’re a website that does virtual networking sessions. Google Hangout, it’s a really, really simple tool to have an open online forum where you can bring together different leaders from your company to speak to students and share company insights and invite students from all around not just the country but the world to kind of listen in and ask questions and engage.
Tweetups is another way to connect to students on Twitter. You can basically create a hashtag for an event, share it out to various student channels and career blogs, and then encourage students to ask questions about your company with the hashtag, and then respond to all those questions with the same hashtag. So you’re answering top questions that students might have. All the students who are asking these questions are the most likely ones who would be interested in working with you, and that’s a really powerful way to engage in sort of this new media channel.
Lastly, I mentioned food trucks before, but just think about ways to do something different and cool on campus. A food truck is something that students love. They’re fun and delicious, they’re trendy right now, and so by rolling up on campus and doing a one-off recruiting event through food trucks and doing the info session that’s so basically a food truck rather in the classroom and boring and still that’s a fantastic way to engage students and encourage them to do think about your brand differently and apply.
On that note, that’s really all the topic for today. I wanted to see if there are any questions I could help answer. I will look inside the chat, and see we have a question section, and so if you have any questions that you people might have. Otherwise I want to include my contact information, my cell phone and email. Feel free to email or contact me anyway you might want to, and thanks so much for, for tuning into our session on campus recruiting.