The Most Effective College Recruiting Strategies

When you hear ‘college recruiting,’ do you think only about entry-level roles, or do you also consider your future talent pipeline? College recruiting may give you the opportunity to recruit for some of the roles you have open right now, but it also allows you to build an employer brand with college students who will be in the workforce for about another 40 years. If you don’t know this by now, the best way to avoid a talent shortage is by building your talent pipeline before you need to tap into it. Today, we’re sharing a few tips to help you make your college campus recruiting strategy as effective as possible.

College recruiting strategies

Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that 71 percent of organizations agree that collaboration with colleges and universities strengthens their talent pipeline. They found, however, that the college recruiting strategies used—and the success of each—varies. A survey they commissioned revealed that the most effective university recruiting strategies were:

  • Training programs: While only 36 percent of organizations are offering training programs for recent college graduates, 84 percent of them rated this strategy as effective.
  • Apprenticeships: 38 percent of organizations offer apprenticeships, and 84 percent of them rated this strategy as effective.
  • Internships and co-ops: Internships and co-ops are the most commonly used university recruitment strategy, with 76 percent of organizations are offering them, and 83 percent of those rating this strategy as effective.
  • Mentoring: 44 percent of organizations support having employees as mentors for students, and 82 percent have found this to be effective.

With the exception of internships, the most effective college recruiting strategies are among the least often used. Another interesting observation is that the least effective college recruitment strategy was the second most used: career fairs. Sixty nine percent of organizations sponsor tables at career fairs, yet only 51 percent rated this strategy as effective.

Increase your chances of success with college recruiting

What appears to really be at play here is that organizations are using the university recruitment strategies that offer the lowest level of involvement. It’s much easier to send a recruiter to a career fair than it is to build a training, apprenticeship, internship, or mentoring program. The latter strategies, however, help organizations develop stronger relationships with college students. While it’s difficult to tell whether the least often used strategies are most effective because there is less competition, or because stronger relationships are the key to success, it’s likely a combination of the two. To build the most successful college recruiting program, it’s important that you test and measure each strategy for yourself.

You must also think about your college recruiting program holistically. The recruitment strategies you use won’t matter if your employer brand, candidate experience, or employee experience scares talent away. Keep an eye on all three, and continually gather and act upon feedback to improve each.

Finally, you must keep in touch with the college students you meet, nurturing them until the right role is available. If you’ve built good relationships and a strong employer brand, you should be able to recruit entry-level talent now, and have a leg up when you reach out to a candidate in the future.


College recruiting should be seen as a long-term game: building a strong talent pipeline for both current and future opportunities at your organization. Work on building relationships with college students through training, apprenticeship, internship, and mentoring programs. That way, you build your talent pipeline while also helping close the skills gap that plagues the modern workforce. Once these candidates are hired, help them build a career plan and continue developing them so they can fulfill your organization’s future needs as well.