June is a time of pomp and circumstance, caps and gowns and fresh beginnings. But if June also signals the start of recruiting season for your company, then I hate to say it, but you’re a bit late to the (graduation) party: most recruiting for the class of 2014’s top talent took place last fall.
As EY’s Americas Director of Recruiting and President of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), I’ve gained some perspective on what’s happening in the broader job market. If you examine NACE’s spring 2014 job outlook data, you’ll also find that this fall competition will only heat up looking ahead. About 43 percent of surveyed employers say they expect to hire more new grads during their fall 2014 recruiting season than they did in fall 2013.
This is certainly encouraging news for students, but it also signals a call to action for employers: in order to be at the head of the class of 2015, they need to impress top talent from their very first interaction.
Fall is the new spring
As you face increased (and earlier) competition for talent, start by asking yourself, “What should I do now to course-correct and start connecting with students sooner?” Here’s what I suggest:
- Connect with campus career development professionals. If you haven’t already done so, begin planning your fall 2014 campus visits (and beyond!). On-campus presence is central to recruiting strategy. Shape and solidify that strategy by collaborating with schools on your target list. College and university career counselorsknow the students — the very audience you’re trying to get to know — so listen to their guidance.
- Raise students’ career awareness earlier. You’re thinking about them, so get them thinking about you! EY does this by offering leadership development programs to promising students as early as their freshman and sophomore years. This helps them build their skills while positioning us as an ideal employer. And that keeps us top of mind with top young talent.
- Invest in technology. You can’t cull top talent if you can’t reach them. Technology is key. Communicate with recruits in the ways they prefer. Social media, of course, plays a big role, but you can’t tweet your way to campus recruiting leadership. Consider mobile-optimized career websites. Convey info via text. Place mobile and geo-targeted ads. Remember: innovation is the key to differentiation.
Ultimately, your goal should be to secure your place as students’ preferred employer and brand yourself so that you stand out — early and often.