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Changing How Companies Brand and Recruit on Campus

Employer recruiting on college campuses has been a part of the higher education experience for years. Now, however, with new-found pressure to improve career preparation and student outcomes, recruiting plays a bigger role than ever.

Students are increasingly focused on job preparation and marketability. Despite innovations, such as LinkedIn, that have pushed the recruiting industry to evolve, there has been little change in how colleges and universities are connecting their students to employers. In an article written for the Harvard Business Review in 2014, Sanjeev Angrawal of Collegefeed points out the disconnect between how students learn about career prospects and how employers recruit students. Angrawal draws his conclusions using data from his company’s dealings with over 300 employers of every shape and size. This blog examines both sides of the college recruiting equation in hopes of better understanding how the process can be improved for students and employers alike. 

First, let's articulate the problem.


Angrawal states that although 84% of employers believe college hiring is important, 92% feel they have a serious branding problem: either students don’t recognize the companies, or students don’t get excited about their brand.

In spite of that statistic, a 2013 NACE study found that 98.1% of companies believe that recruiting on campus - again, something they've been doing for years - is the best way to express their company brand and find top-level talent. This is the first problem: what they’ve been doing doesn’t seem to resonate with Millennials.

Employers know that direct access to students through college and university channels are their best shot at landing fresh talent. Yet, these same employers are using third-party websites as recruiting tools. This raises the question: How can schools leverage the tools and technology available through third-party websites to best help employers recruit on campus?


Now, the other piece of the puzzle: students. In 2014, Collegefeed asked 15,000 Millennials - 60% still in college and 40% recent grads - a series of questions to determine how college students think about branding and recruiting.

Here are three questions from that survey, courtesy of Collegefeed and reported on

  1. Top 50 Companies Young People Want to Work For
  2. What Millennials Look for In Employers
  3. How Millennials Hear About Companies


Overall: students want to know more about the world of potential employers.

As a result, the companies that are successful at branding themselves to *millennials* are those that effectively communicate what students find most meaningful: culture, career potential, and work/life balance. An old-school company description doesn’t cut it. In addition to having a unique culture, interesting employees, and plenty of potential for upward mobility, these successful companies have used their brand to build a palpable presence both on and off campus.

So, there seems to be a gap between how students research companies and how those same companies recruit. Being on campus and meeting students face-to-face is only one aspect of the process. Schools themselves need to help facilitate and centralize the process so that millennials can be educated about particular companies via online tools, on their own time, at their own pace.

What Can Schools Do To Bring Students and Employers Back?

Not every company has the allure of Google, Apple, and Facebook, and many don't have the resources to build out creative branding campaigns. What we need to figure out is how to enable companies with fewer resources and less visibility to easily communicate their culture to students.Thankfully, there are ways to do so simply and inexpensively. Our personal favorite is the Company Profile. Company profiles, hosted on your career center website, allow companies to appeal directly to the student audience through dynamic content (such as videos!!). Through such profiles, companies can establish an online presence via the career center and articulate who they are to YOUR particular students.

Moreover, using this approach, students can share profiles, receive alerts when new company profiles are added that match their interests, and save favorite companies for future reference. Through engagement tracking, employers are able to analyze whether their profile is resonating, and promote more targeted recruiting opportunities to students.

This partnership brings student job-seekers and employer recruiters together on campus - by connecting them directly through the career center website.

As you well know, employer relations are important. Good ones get students hired year in and year out. Providing your employer partners a place to promote themselves to students can enhance your relationship with employers and benefit the campus community as a whole.

As always, let me know if you have any thoughts at


Learn more about how giving your employer partners a platform to publicly promote themselves can boost engagement with your career resources.

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About Author

Sarah Stone
Sarah Stone