Back to School: 4 Campus Recruiting Trends for 2022

By Robert Half on April 18, 2022 at 9:00am

In the wake of the pandemic, many recruiters have shifted to a hybrid work schedule — that is, part on-site and part remote. College students have also changed their routines, with some still preferring online hiring events to physical job fairs, but others eager to meet with prospective employers in person.

This new environment is fertile with possibilities for adaptable campus recruiters. You can set up a booth at a physical job fair or host a chat room at a virtual one, as your schedule or budget allows. But this so-called hybrid recruiting model isn’t the only campus trend worth watching. Students are increasingly looking for employers who align with their values, while companies are less fixated on grades and qualifications when evaluating early-career talent. Here’s a more detailed look at some of these campus recruitment trends.

Have laptop, will recruit

Recruiters have long used digital technology for outreach and communication with student candidates, but it’s never been more important than it is today.

What are the advantages? First and foremost, you’re no longer bound by geography. You can cast a wider net and form connections with more schools and more top candidates, regardless of their location. Hybrid recruiting also saves money, as travel to in-person job fairs and campus events can quickly burn a hole in your budget. Far more cost-effective are digital programs that allow companies to schedule virtual events with selected schools or participate in combined events with several schools.

As for social media, it should be at the heart of your hybrid recruiting strategy, not tacked on as an afterthought. College students, recent graduates and Gen Z-ers in general are highly active on these platforms, so be sure to post job openings via your corporate accounts.

Company culture and benefits matter more

While hybrid recruiting brings a wider candidate pool, it also brings more competition for talent. And today’s graduates know what they’re looking for — that’s why it’s especially important to understand what Gen Z values.

When recruiting, emphasize corporate culture, particularly any remote or hybrid work arrangements. Many new graduates want to feel they’re valued for their work and that they’re contributing to a company that cares about people and issues, so showcasing diversity and inclusion initiatives can also give you an edge.

Finally, compensation and benefits remain a critical part of the equation. Even inexperienced graduates expect competitive pay, along with the standard retirement plan and paid time off, plus nice-to-have perks like wellness programs and employee discounts. (Use the Robert Half Salary Guide to research the perks and benefits that matter most to younger workers.)

Traditional job requirements matter less

The Great Resignation — named for record-high quit rates over the last several months — has left many organizations with gaps in their ranks. Early-career talent can fill some of these gaps, but this may require campus recruiters to be more flexible in how they evaluate skills and potential.

In practice, this could mean offering roles to graduates who may not tick every box but possess strong soft skills, have a genuine interest in the work and seem to align well with the company culture. GPA and standardized test scores are no longer top considerations in every case, while things like previous work experience and trainability matter more than ever.

A related trend is for companies to prioritize internal hiring, offering permanent positions to college interns who have already shown their worth. Even if you don’t run internships, you can still prioritize graduates who have interned at other companies in your industry.

On-campus events still matter

Gen-Z may be digital natives, but plenty of students still prefer in-person interactions to virtual ones. Traditional events like job fairs are one way to reach this audience, but you should also consider out-of-the-box ideas to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Examples include:

  • Hackathons — This is a great way to reel in computer science and engineering talent. If your target schools don’t host hackathons or coding contests, why not start one?
  • Campus challenges — Next time you give a classroom presentation, close your talk by sending the students a tough challenge — preferably the kind of problem they’d face as an employee at your company. Review the solutions on your next visit and flag any outstanding candidates for future consideration.
  • Mini events — To maintain a relationship with your talent pool, consider organizing a monthly group chat or 1:1 meetings with your hiring managers at the campus coffee bar. It’s an informal, cost-effective way to keep your company at the front of students’ minds.

2022 is ushering in a new era of campus recruiting. Virtual events have erased the geographical barriers to connecting with talent, while physical ones are making a comeback. With a flexible approach that considers the needs and priorities of Gen-Z, your campus recruiting program will graduate summa cum laude.

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