Campus Recruiting: Your Core Schools Might Be All Wrong

It's September, and that means back-to-school time. Lunches, soccer practice, early morning alarms, and campus recruiting. That's right, if your recruiting job includes campus, you're gearing up for travel, career services guidelines, information sessions, and calls from parents: "can you hire my son?"

You're also likely revisiting your strategy. Core schools, a longtime practice for many companies, help narrow down the campus process, build relationships and drive a marketing presence on a few key campuses (instead of spreading your resources across many). But for many recruiters, the core school strategy is the same tired tale:

  • Your CEO is obsessed with highly ranked schools
  • Target campuses are arbitrarily selected based on where executives graduated
  • Budgets don't allow for travel so you're limited to local schools

Sound familiar? For some talent acquisition leaders, the core school strategy isn't a strategy at all.  Even if you have been strategic--considering geographic locations of your business, looking for high concentrations of successful alumni, and determining where you have the most recruiting success--it only scratches the surface. In the age of deep dive data, if you're doing what you've always done, you're doing it wrong. 

Do I have your attention?

Considering additional points of data can be really valuable to build a profile of the student who will ultimately be the high-performer you're looking for.

Case in point: Wabash College

A small, liberal arts school 45 minutes outside of Indianapolis, Wabash is one of the last remaining all-male colleges in the country. You can see immediately why recruiters wouldn't bother. Too small, no women (for diversity's sake), and far to travel to.

But on a recent visit to campus for their recruiters' summit, I learned a few things (all statistics courtesy of Wabash College):

  1. It's ranked #7 nationally for best college professors of all schools, and #5 for most accessible professors.
  2. Wabash is in the top 4% of all colleges nationally in ROI (salary) on degree.
  3. One in eight Wabash graduates hold the title of President, Chairman, or CEO.
  4. Thirteen percent have earned Ph.D.s (a number higher than at most Ivies).
  5. When a common campus major is rhetoric, you find college students who are more well-spoken and articulate than many professionals I've worked with in my career.
  6. 75% of students are active in college sports
  7. Ranked as the 11th best career services office in the country.

Imagine what the ramifications of these statistics are in total. Not any one in particular, but the story the data tells: students who are more engaged with professors, have better time management skills from pursuit of college athletics, have access to one of the best careers services offices, rise up the ranks faster when employed and earn more.

At exaqueo, we're data geeks. And when we do workforce research, we look for the story the data tells.  With Wabash for example, It's not any one statistic that stands out, it's all of them together that tell a story of a different kind of student. 

"We know that many organizations choose only to recruit at larger schools, but I've worked on numerous college campuses, and the behavioral and attitudinal traits these students gain here at Wabash simply means they're mature, articulate, ethically driven and motivated than their peers at larger schools," says Scott Crawford, Wabash's Director of Career Services. "So we're happy to get creative with organizations who want to hire that kind of professional in their workplaces and find ways for them to meet and get to know our students."

Maybe this year is your learning year. Determine exactly what makes a high-potential college hire at your organization. Go beyond skills, and focus on what behaviors drive the performance your organization needs. Then turn to a deep data dive to see if your core schools are delivering. Your story might have a happy ending, or it may be time for a rewrite. If that's the case, Scott Crawford's ready to take your call.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps companies build cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn how to better compete for talent by building honest, authentic employer brands and powerful talent attraction and retention programs.

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