Employers have an opportunity to expand their recruiting reach by pursuing entry-level candidates at universities, colleges and trade schools. This kind of strategy is considered a core recruitment function for many organizations.

Around 4 million college students graduate each year, earning associate and bachelor’s degrees. Since spring is the most common time to graduate, now is the perfect opportunity for employers to focus on recent graduates who have the potential to grow in a new career.

Types of Higher Education Institutions

A university generally refers to a larger higher education institution offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. They often place emphasis on conducting research. On the other hand, a college is often smaller and usually refers to community colleges, technical schools and liberal arts colleges. They typically only focus on undergraduate studies. A trade or vocational school offers programs that can be completed within one or two years and focus on a career-intensive curriculum with hands-on experience.

Just as there are various learning institutions, there are different skill sets employers may want to seek out depending on their industry or organization. In some cases, many may desire workers with an undergraduate degree or master’s degree; other companies may be interested in trade talent or specialized skills. Organizations can consider which types of institutions are likely to provide a talent pipeline for their job openings and desired skills.

Recruitment Strategies

Employers looking to expand their recruiting reach should review the following considerations to sustainably engage candidates from colleges and universities:

  • Attend in-person events. Employers can visit select university and college campuses to engage, connect with and recruit entry-level candidates on campus. Most institutions hold career fairs for this purpose.
  • Actively recruit virtually. An organization hiring remote or hybrid workers can leverage online platforms to engage with candidates and bolster their company’s brand. Online portals (e.g., Handshake) can help employers connect with students where they are and start personalized recruiting conversations.
  • Participate in virtual recruiting efforts. Colleges, trade associations or other organizations likely host virtual career fairs. Alternatively, a virtual event or webinar may focus on a particular industry, profession, experience or geographic area, which can help recruit mid-level and senior positions or other non-university candidates.
  • Build relationships with stakeholders. For a partnership to succeed or be impactful, employers can develop long-term relationships with institutional stakeholders, such as career centers and professors.
  • Establish an internship or apprenticeship program. Such programs can strategically get talent (who are a good match for the company culture) in the door early and provide them with real-life experience. Candidates may also be more likely to select a full-time employer they’ve already worked for in a less permanent capacity.
  • Offer learning and development opportunities. Regardless of industry or age, today’s workers want career growth opportunities. Learning and development opportunities can help employees become better at their jobs and overcome performance gaps due to a lack of access to knowledge or skills.

If employers are having difficulty finding qualified candidates, they could consider expanding their recruitment reach by pursuing entry-level workers from universities and other higher education institutions. New energy and fresh perspectives from recent and soon-to-be graduates can help organizations innovate and develop a strong workplace culture

Feel free to reach out to us to seek assistance with any workplace guidance. We look forward to supporting your needs and contributing to the success of your organization.