Diversify Your College Recruiting
Five ways for your organization to better connect with and recruit diverse college students and graduates.
By Tom Borgerding
Having a diverse workforce brings many benefits to an organization. Consider the 2015 report from McKinsey which found that diverse companies are more likely to be successful and to lure top talent than their less-diverse counterparts. A 2013 study by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and other researchers published in the Harvard Business Review found that companies with diverse leadership teams out-innovate and out-perform others. Employees at these companies are 45 percent likelier to report that their firm's market share grew over the previous year and 70 percent likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. However, expanding the diversity at a company can seem like a challenge at times, especially when you're looking for college students. It's not as easy as showing up for a career fair or hosting an information session. A single job posting is rarely enough to reach and engage the best students. Here's a list of the top five ways to expand your diversity recruiting efforts on college campuses.
Career Services: Obviously, your first stop should be the Offices of Career Services (also called Career Centers), which are set up to help employers connect with and find students who are a match for jobs, internships and careers. Amazingly enough, employers rarely take the opportunity to ask the employer-relations staff within the career center what they recommend. The staff may offer mentorship opportunities, job-shadowing opportunities for students at your company, and serving as a judge for student business-case competitions. Each university has slightly different employer opportunities. You'll be given a clearer picture of all the services and opportunities beyond the traditional career fair and job posting. The ER staff also has relationships with students, faculty and staff, which they can leverage to help get you in front of your target students. Career centers also offer students mentoring programs, resume reviews and mock interviews -- by getting involved with these efforts, you can meet a wide variety of students.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Departments: Most medium and large universities will have an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which serves diverse faculty, staff and students. These departments have separate events that are not tied to the career centers. Sponsor and have recruiters available at those events. While there, develop longer-term relationships with the department leadership. They are uniquely set up to engage and connect with the diversity groups on their campuses. Offer mentorship programs to their student members. Offer information about careers in your company's industry, as many college students (diverse and non-diverse) are exploring which career path to pursue up until the time they graduate.
Student Life: The Office of Student Life oversees up to hundreds of student-run organizations on a single campus. The OSL approves the student groups each year or semester. Fraternities, sororities, clubs and associations would all fall into this category. Reach out to the OSL to find out which student groups may be a fit for your need -- women in business, student government, Hispanic students, African-American students, religious groups, Native American students, female students, non-U.S.-citizen students, etc. As a way to help these student groups, offer to be a mentor to the leadership or student members. Since most of these groups are run independently by students, they usually don't get the same amount of leadership training and attention as the programs run by the university staff (i.e. Career Services). Offer to be a resource or mentor to the leadership of the Hispanic students group, for example, by meeting with and advising the leadership on how to engage and lead their members. They may want feedback on how to recruit students to their group or club. If your company has employee resource groups, then connect your ERG to the relevant student group. The employees will then be able to serve as mentors and advisers to these students and forge a connection between them and your company.
Leadership: Connect with the Leadership and Development Office. The students involved with this office are being trained in leadership skills. Does your company provide diversity or inclusion training? Connect your employer's training teams to the LDO. If your company hires more for personality types, initiative and performance than for a particular degree or trade, these may be your students. Here again, diversity is available within the LDO's student membership. LDO students are great candidates for management trainee or corporate-leadership programs.
Your Careers/Jobs Website: Make sure you address diversity topics on your company's careers pages -- and not "in passing" as a bullet point, but speak to topics that diverse students care about, such as the diversity groups available at your company and how to get involved, what the group is designed to do, and the support and benefits available. Additionally, develop videos for the diversity groups and link to those on your corporate careers page. Show pictures of current diverse employees. If your company doesn't currently have a diversity program, start one internally. Engage diverse employees and ask them to help with your recruitment efforts. Students who are looking for a diverse environment will want to see diversity in the recruiting team. If employees aren't able to join your recruitment team, ask them to be available to speak with students. Then develop content for your website, highlighting your diverse employees (assuming they are willing and interested) by using videos and written testimonials. If you'd like to see who's doing this well, check out Target, PwC and Ultimate Software. These companies do a great job of building out messages for diverse students who are looking to find not only an employer, but an employer willing to help them be all they can be, give them a comfortable and exciting place to work, and that wants each person to be who they are.
Finding and attracting diverse students doesn't need to be -- and shouldn't be -- an uphill battle. Use the departments on campus that are there to support diverse students. Mentor, sponsor and engage with the offices and groups listed above. You'll find new ways to stand out as an employer while attracting more qualified students to fulfill your hiring needs.
Thomas Borgerding is the president and CEO of Campus Media Group, a consulting, marketing and advertising agency helping employers and brands engage college students through experiential events, digital marketing, content marketing, and on-campus marketing.