Raghunath Ramaswamy
Raghunath Ramaswamy Educated in pure sciences, my journey has its roots in Software development, Sales and Marketing. Since 1995, people have been the centre of my professional universe.I have since focused on acquiring, engaging, managing, nurturing, equipping and developing human resources.

Campus Recruitment

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Campus recruitment is a crucial source of recruiting talent in several parts of the world. Campus recruitment involves identifying, engaging, and recruiting young talent directly from universities. It is typically for an internship or full-time positions. Full-time roles are usually for entry-level jobs and for mid-level executives (especially while recruiting from a Business school, where the applicant may have prior work experience).

Several large/top companies have successfully recruited and nurtured talent from campuses from diverse backgrounds. It will continue to be an essential channel of acquiring talent. Let us look at the WHY, HOW, WHO, and WHAT of Campus Recruitment.  

WHY do companies vie for talent from the campus?

Key aspects about Campus Recruitment that make it attractive:

  • Quantity/Volume:  Several organizations have high-volume recruiting needs to meet their growth. An effective campus recruiting strategy enables this.
  • Cost: The cost of recruiting talent from campus is lesser compared to hiring an experienced applicant. 
  • Convenience: Campus hiring is also relatively easier to identify talent and recruit.
  • Culture: Culture fit is a non-negotiable aspect. Organizations look for someone who fits nicely into an organization's culture or can bring in a positive cultural change. Hiring fresh graduates and training them could be an excellent way for organizations to achieve this.
  • Training: Fresh graduates can be trained and nurtured according to the organization's needs. Training costs are also less, and the learning would also be quick.
  • New and young talent: Replenishing the workforce with younger talent By establishing a steady pipeline of resources.
  • Internship: Internship allows organizations to engage with the graduates for a short period, assess and recruit for a permanent position based on their performance.
  • Flexibility to onboard: With campus graduates, companies also have the flexibility to onboard them over 3-4 months after graduation. New hires can be onboarded in batches, trained, and deployed to teams.

HOW do organizations go about recruiting talent from campuses?

On-campus recruitment: This involves working with campuses and building a relationship. The second essential step in this process would involve providing an orientation to the students about the organization, educating them on the domain, nature of work, culture, and growth opportunities. It is popularly referred to as pre-placement talk. It is followed by screening resumes and going through the selection process. The typical selection process for Campus Recruitment is provided in the section below. Campus recruitment remains a critical channel for large companies and industry leaders. In many countries, there is enormous competition among the companies. Each of them vying for the top slot in the premier universities.

Off campus recruitment drive: An off-campus recruitment drive is an excellent option for picking up students who have graduated and are readily available. Contrary to on-campus recruitment, this involves conducting recruiting campaigns or job fairs in a shared location. For example, one could invite students from a group of universities to a shared pace or an event. In addition, companies could come together to hold a job fair. The advantage of this option is that organizations get access to a larger pool of applicants. Reaching out to Alumni, postings on job boards and social media sites are invaluable aids in this process.

Pool Campus Recruitment: Pooling of applicants from across several campuses. Organizations have listed partner universities/colleges from where they can hire. However, suppose organizations are desirous of hiring a more significant number of applicants. In that case, they pool resources from across campuses to achieve their milestones.

Competition/Hackathon Led Hiring: With the advent of technology, a third mode of recruiting campus graduates has been in vogue for the past few years. It involves leveraging digital solutions to organize hackathons or contests for university graduates and recruit them. Again, this is an excellent opportunity for mid-sized and relatively new and upcoming organizations that would not have the privilege of getting top slots in Universities. 

Organizations conduct hackathons that require applicants to solve challenging or complex problems. The top performers are then shortlisted and taken through the next steps in the selection process. This method has also made the proposition of recruiting for skill and not for school. Companies like Facebook and Amazon have pioneered this concept by having open challenges on their website. Many organizations have also partnered with e-learning platforms and gotten access to their top learners from campuses in recent times.

Campus recruitment selection process

How do organizations identify talent and recruit the applicant?

The typical steps in a campus recruitment process are listed below. An organization would typically use some of these steps with customization as desired.

  • Resume screening, including eligibility checks, required grade points aggregates 
  • Aptitude assessments, this could be logical/quantitative/verbal based on the need of the organization
  • Hackathons
  • Technical assessments, based on the need and domain of the organization
  • Language proficiency tests
  • Group Discussions to determine communication and ability to work in teams/collaboration
  • Case studies / Roleplays
  • Technical interviews
  • HR / Leadership interviews, also referred to as personal interviews in some case

In addition, some organizations could also do group or stress interviews to identify how well applicants perform under actual work-like conditions.

WHO are the key stakeholders in the campus game?

Broadly the three categories of stakeholders are

From the Recruiting organization: 

  • Recruiter
  • Senior business and functional leaders
  • Workforce Management team (provide forecast/numbers)
  • Hiring managers
  • Interview panel
  • Learning and Development team
  • Corporate branding / Marketing team
  • Talent Analytics team
  • Software/tools to manage the recruitment process and provide assessments
  • External marketing agencies or partner firms

From the college: 

  • Placement cell / Career development centre
  • Placement coordinators / student volunteers
  • Alumni (maybe)
  • Students

The role of the recruiter would involve:

  • Campus recruitment strategy [working with business and functional leaders]
  • Number of applicants to be recruited / positions [work force management team]
  • Creating JDs [Hiring managers]
  • Setting up assessment and interview process [L&D, hiring managers]
  • Identifying the right Universities or  proper channels for recruitment [Corporate branding]
  • Best-in-class offer [compensation team]
  • Preparing corporate collateral [Marketing] 
  • Building relationships with Universities and forging partnerships [placement cell]
  • Promoting the organization and the job profile/opportunities [students/applicants]
  • Pre-placement engagement, showcasing the capabilities and talent
  • Leverage tools to manage the recruitment process
  • Administering assessments and interviews [Interview panel]
  • On-boarding and training [Learning and Development team]

What do Universities look for while selecting an organization? 

  • Volume: Universities would typically look for organizations that can hire volumes or provide a guarantee to offer a certain number of jobs. The preference would be given to such organizations. Universities use the percentage of students placed/offered a job as a metric to attract students in the subsequent year.
  • Job guarantee: Organizations that don’t go back on their offers and accept all the applicants offered 
  • Compensation: Universities look for organizations that offer high pay. They typically use the average salary of the students placed as a metric to showcase.
  • Brand value
  • Recurring visits: Universities would give preference to organizations that have the potential to hire a sizeable number of students consistently every year. So, the preference would be to large MNCs.
  • Feedback from the recruited students of the earlier batches: This truly conveys the employee value proposition of the brand. It impacts the fortunes of an organization wanting to hire from universities.

Organizations look for universities that are ranked high/on the top. Universities look to have organizations with a great brand name on their campus – vicious cycle!

What do applicants look for while selecting an organization?

Based on surveys conducted by reputed institutions, the following are some of the factors that applicants look for while choosing an organization. Of course, these priorities could vary based on diverse aspects, including the company's industry/domain and geographic location.

  • Compensation
  • Job profile/role
  • Career growth
  • Organization’s brand value / brand perception
  • Employee ratings and opinion, specifically their alumni
  • Selection process including pre-placement talk and brand positioning
  • Ratings in online portals like Glassdoor

A recruiter and the organization will do well to understand these key aspects/factors that Universities and applicants aspire for and position accordingly to attract the best talent.

Based on all this, here are some of the strategies to attract, recruit and on-board the best talent from campuses.

Relationship with Universities: 

  • Industry-college partnerships could include research projects and setting up labs
  • Recruiter could build effective partnership/personal connections with the key stakeholders
  • Sponsor events in Universities
  • Connect with college lecturers/faculty/professors
  • On-campus ambassadors

Building the company/organization’s brand:

  • Enhancing social media presence
  • Sponsoring technical and cultural fests that college students attend

Selection and offer: 

  • Attractive pre-placement talks and engagement
  • Alumni connect 
  • Best-in-class selection process
  • Excellent applicant experience through the interviews
  • Conduct market surveys to benchmark and offer the best possible compensation

Whoever is offered need not join

Finally, there is no guarantee that all offered campus graduates will join the firm.

Many could have other offers or options. Therefore the recruiter needs to be constantly in touch with the applicants who have been offered until they join the organization. Some of the techniques that a recruiter can employ for the experienced hire can also be used here. It should also be noted that some large companies have a sense of the percentage of offered graduates who will join and provide offers accordingly. That is, if they need 90 applicants and their records indicate that only 90% of offered applicants join usually, they make 100 offers. 

While this variability remains, campus recruits offer predictability in joining dates. Unlike an experienced applicant who could have different notice periods based on the company they work for, campus recruits usually join upon graduation, which is typically the end of summer (May-June). Companies also have the flexibility to on-board the campus graduates in a staggered manner over 3-4 months based on their needs and capacity.