Article: Time to rethink campus hiring practices

Talent Acquisition

Time to rethink campus hiring practices

With social media and multiple communication channels influencing the target group, one has to be dramatically different with new recruiting approaches to see dramatic improvement in the hiring process
Time to rethink campus hiring practices



Typical day in campus placements.

6 am: Flight to the city where you have the drive.

8 am: Rushing in to the campus and getting all set for the pre placement talk.

9 am: Pre-placement talk.

10 am: 360 candidates appear for the written test.

2 pm: 60 candidates shortlisted for in-person interviews.

3 pm: Face to face interviews begins, 5 panels running in parallel.

8 pm: 60 interview rounds conducted by a panel of 10 members.

9 pm: Job offers rolled out to 5 candidates.

This is a scenario of a campus placement of a mid-tier company and I would rate it somewhat a well organized one, possibly due to lower volume. I have discussed cases in which there are more than 1000 students and the process extends well past mid night. This all seems as a manageable work from a recruiting teams perspective but from a candidate who is probably waiting for his first job, this experience is definitely not that great. Many a times, my discussions with some of the Campus hiring heads is about how they have existing practices which is well oiled and may not require a rethinking for next couple of years. They are fine with the current process since it works and will catch up when the situation demands. In today’s time when there is a war for talent, simply catching up is not enough. In order to hire the best your campus hiring methods must stand out to be noticed by the graduating students and appreciated by your corporate executives, including the hiring managers who spend significant time in these processes.  

With social media and multiple communication channels influencing your target group, you have to be dramatically different with new recruiting approaches to see dramatic improvement in your hiring process.

I am sharing a couple of practices, which have brought about highest potential impact on the firms recruiting results. These practices are not in widespread usage but they are not unproven, I have seen them implemented successfully in at least one firm.

On-campus student ambassador program — Brands have been using this approach for a while to increase brand awareness in coveted market of 18- to 24-year-olds. Their belief is if you reach this group early on you can create brand loyalty since this age group is a receptive audience. If brands can do it for selling products, recruiters should also keep this as one of their top priority since you too are selling the story on why to work with us. Student ambassadors can work to get your firms employees invited in events / conferences as speakers or technical experts for college projects and which can be leveraged to create a desire among students to be part of your firm. One of the approaches, which companies use, is engaging the summer interns as ambassadors once they return to campus.  Firms like Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm have all found their ambassadors to be highly effective.

Your recruiting message/communications must use Mobile communication/channel — I think most of you will agree one thing that has a undivided attention from students is their mobile. This is one of the most preferred channel to engage students, since they carry it 24/7 and respond/engage must faster than any other communication channel. You can generate content around careers, working with your firm, some unique USPs of your firm, technical managers talking about your technology and the cutting edge work they are doing etc and push it through social media and other mobile optimized channels. Mobile strategy should be even used when you are designing the method to collect the application forms, conduct screening tests and keep the candidate updated about the joining formalities. I know of companies who are doing this partially however companies are yet to adopt an end-to-end mobile strategy.  

Develop the capability of recruiting remotely (without visiting the campus) — This is what I have been promoting in India for the last two years and it has worked out well for my clients across sectors. Even if you had unlimited recruiting budget, you could still only physically visit more than a dozen campuses and remote recruiting is going to be necessary rather than a good to have in near future.

There are two reasons why this is important

1. Not missing out on a bright student from not so well known campus/remote campus: You can ask all the students to attend a multiple choice question test followed by an asynchronous video interview. The test scores can be used to shortlist the best and then you can see the candidates video responses to your specific questions. Based on this you can shortlist the best candidates and since the numbers may be few, you can ask these candidates to travel to your office. By adopting this you increase your reach, never miss out on good quality talent without significantly impacting your budget or time.

2. Locking in the best students before pre placement talks: You can ask students to attend the tests and asynchronous video interviews. This translates to a candidates video profile and technical score, thereby helping you shortlist them better than just a resume. Your line manager based in central office can also have a look at these shortlisted candidates and give their feedback. When you arrive in campus go on with your pre placement talks and then meet these shortlisted candidates first before meeting the rest. This will give you a significant advantage over the other companies in locking in the best candidates with an offer. This approach gives you speed of execution in getting to the best fast. Many of the firms that I know arrange for hackathons, online mini projects etc to engage students and be top ranked as one of their preferred firms. These approaches are cost effective in spread the message, enhancing the employers brand and also screen potentially good candidates who can be hired.

Convince your CEO/Top management to make calls to hot student prospects — In India we recently saw CEOs convincing why their firm is the best in Social media in middle of night 

Now things like this leave a lasting impression not only for the candidate but everyone who has observed the discussion in social media. This approach can be used to get the best student, make him feel important and it will send across a message about the open door policy the firm may have in approaching the top management. These types of calls have had an extremely high success rate at firms like Microsoft, Whirlpool, Google, Ernst & Young, and Apple.

Add a “refer-a-student” component to your college recruiting process — Employee referrals are effective and some of the companies I work with source around 60% + candidates through employee referrals. But none of the companies I know of have adopted a student referral program. One of the channels to get this going will be through the students who have worked with your firm as an intern, college professor working on some consulting assignments with your firm, your employees, tutors etc. Since these group already know of superior students, it will help you reach out to them more effectively with a known person as a channel between your firm and the candidate.   Small rewards or prizes can influence this group to bring in high quality referrals.

These are some of the methods, which are starting to take wings in India. I am sure early adopters in Campus recruiting may be in the process of implementing at least 2-3 of the methods mentioned, for the rest you have a well oiled machine which will change in due course of time. 

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Campus Recruitment, #TAWeek, #HR Ready

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