Campus Recruiting: 4 Tips to Land the Best Talent Before Graduation

Campus Recruiting

It’s no secret that the accounting and finance industries are facing a fairly serious shortage of talent these days. One way accounting firms are coping with this challenge is by recruiting promising college students, often well before they graduate.

If your firm needs quality entry-level accounting staff, recruiting on college campuses (or beefing up the college campus recruiting system you already have in place) is a solid option to explore. Here are four tips for successful college campus recruiting:

1. Think outside the booth.

If you’re planning a booth at the local university’s job and career fairs – like every other accounting firm in town (as well as some from out of town) – think about how you can make your campus recruiting efforts stand out from all the others. Get creative: Maybe one or more of your employees are alumni and can draw on their familiarity with the school to give your firm a leg up. Maybe you can have one of your specialists give a presentation to an accounting class in his or her area of specialization, or have your hiring manager give a talk on how to get hired by an accounting firm. Or maybe you could arrange for a class to analyze one of your firm’s projects or solve one of your firm’s problems as a class project.

2. Put your best foot forward.

As you’re evaluating these students, they’ll be evaluating you right back. So use the opportunity to showcase your company’s specialties, strengths and areas of focus. Is your company the best fraud examination firm in town? Do your employees tend to work their way up to become controllers and CFOs? Does your company have an admired corporate culture? Anything that makes you stand out among organizations needs to be front and center in your college recruiting efforts.

3. Speak to the individual.

If you simply market your firm as a place to get a job with a good salary, students’ eyes might glaze over. They’re much more likely to perk up and listen if you take a moment to learn about their career and personal goals, then explain how your firm can help them reach those aspirations. Maybe one student really wants to join a smaller firm where she can grow and be mentored, and another one is looking for a larger one where she can be promoted. Maybe another is wild about compliance work. Maybe a fourth really wants to stay in town after he graduates — or maybe you have an office in a city where he’d like to live.

4. Set up an internship program, and hire your best interns.

There is no harder worker at an accounting firm than an employee who used to be an intern, had a fantastic internship experience and was then hired on full-time. Internship programs give both you and your intern a chance to see whether you’ll be a good fit working together, while also providing experience for the intern and help for your firm. Pro tip: When you hire an intern full-time, make that person your No. 1 campus recruiting representative at his or her alma mater.

What campus recruiting tips and tactics have been most successful for you? Share your favorites in the comments below.