Summer 2021: The State of Campus Recruiting

    The past year-and-a-half shifted the landscape of campus recruiting and created opportunities for recruiters to find new, better, more inclusive ways to connect with early-career talent. But in practice, we saw many recruiters instead continue to run with old strategies, with “remote” or “virtual” jammed in front. 

    In our summer 2021 edition of The State of Campus Recruiting, panelists discussed the responses of companies and schools to virtual, the realized and potential opportunities for recruiters moving forward, and what students and recent graduates are seeking after a year+ of disruption.  

    Panelists included :

    • David Ong, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at MAXIMUS; President-Elect of NACE
    • Lindsey Pollak, NYT bestselling author and workplace and career expert
    • Jeffrey Moss, Founder and CEO of Parker Dewey 

    See some of the key takeaways from the conversation below, or check out the webinar replay!

    The shift to remote forced companies and schools to ask: how do we find creative, personalized ways to engage with talent?

    Last year, our Fall Recruiting Student Sentiment Survey found that more than 86% of students rated "real work experience" as their preferred method of engagement with employers, allowing them to learn about potential roles they may not have otherwise considered. And with just over half of students last year expecting virtual career fairs to be an effective way to engage them, talent acquisition teams needed to look beyond virtual versions of traditional tactics to ensure successful engagement, diversity, and conversion outcomes.

    David: The best piece of advice we got from schools where we recruited was pretty simple: "Just because it works in a live environment, don’t assume it’ll work in a Zoom environment."

    Lindsey: A lot of students who went through internship programs [last year] said their favorite thing was access to senior leaders in small groups. So maybe the CEO would have done a town hall that you got to participate in but virtually, it was much easier for executives around the world to do five people on a Zoom—so they really felt that one-on-one access was critical and the number one thing they wanted to keep from an intern perspective.


    Students and recent graduates want real, hands-on ways to learn about an organization’s culture—including diversity efforts. 

    Also from last year's survey: 77% of career launchers rated “opportunities to connect with professionals in fields that interest me and learn more about how entry-level projects support company objectives” as important. As David shared in his example below, MAXIMUS has placed greater emphasis on introducing company culture as part of the interview process, while Lindsey also stressed the importance of getting your people in front of candidates as early as possible. 

    David: Rather than having people come in and define culture [at MAXIMUS], our thinking was let’s give them a working example of culture. We actually provided...the MAXIMUS Cultural Interview as part of our onboarding process. We broke them out into small groups and matched them with four MAXIMUS employees per internship group, coming from different levels. We told the interns that you have 15 minutes to prepare, as a group to interview these folks...and learn as much as you can about MAXIMUS culture.

    Lindsey: Students know your diversity numbers. They are looking at your diversity numbers. They are going to come up to you at campus events and say, "Why have you never visited my school before?" [They also] want to meet your people. Yes, recruiters are great, and I think a lot of companies now have specific diversity recruiters...But I think one of the corrections we’ve made is that recruiting, as automated as it’s become, is becoming more one-on-one and more hands-on...What if you got your people involved earlier [in the recruiting process]? That is the most valuable thing you can possibly do.

    (See how you can connect early-career talent with ERG members here!)


    Final words of wisdom to employers and career services professionals? 

    Lindsey: Don’t let the crisis go to waste. We’ve been through a lot. Don’t stop innovating, don’t stop experimenting, don’t go back to business as usual...The students want to tell you what they want! They will be very vocal about what they want—so ask them, listen to them, keep innovating, don’t stop now!

    David: [To the career services folks], we need you now more than ever before. We have a lot of students that feel lost with everything that’s going on...We need you to tell us what works and what doesn’t work on your campus.

    Stay tuned for more details on our Fall 2021 The State of Campus Recruiting call and our 2021 Fall Recruiting Student Sentiment Survey Report!