Recruiting college graduates

How to Recruit New College Graduates


It’s a smart business decision to hire sharp new college graduates for entry-level positions in your organization. They’re tech-savvy, highly motivated and have a hunger to learn new skills and expand their horizons. But how does a company go about hiring college graduates? And with so many businesses competing for these new college grads, how does your company stand out from the others in terms of career opportunities? 

How Do You Attract College Graduates to Your Company?

The first step is to create interest in your company among new graduates. To be successful, an organization must find and engage them, and must offer career opportunities that are attractive to these highly desirable candidates. 

What it takes to attract recent graduates:

  • Strong Marketing – Build your employer brand online. Savvy companies must engage graduates where they hang out — on social media sites. Establish a social media presence on sites like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Twitter. Post regular updates and video campaigns that are aimed at college students as well as recent grads. In addition to job listings, show your company culture. This can include photos of employees, company events and employee (and CEO) posts written from their perspective.
  • Valuable Training – Companies that offer ongoing training to their employees entice new college graduates who are eager to build their skill set and advance their career. It has been shown that 92% of employees believe that having access to professional development at their job is either important or very important. To recruit the very best people, employers must commit to their professional advancement, early on and throughout their career.
  • An Internship Program – Choose recent college grads that have a degree that relates to your industry. For the new intern, this gives them a chance to try out the company culture and see their growth potential before they commit to something long-term. For the company, they can have a trial period, become familiar with the talent and then hire directly from the internship.
  • Room for Advancement – Does the company promote from within? Is there a clear path to advance from an entry-level job to management? Candidates who have just left college want a position that has a clear career path. They will gravitate towards employers who can show that their current employees have moved through the ranks to prominent positions within the company.
  • Earning Potential – While the money isn’t all that matters, costs of living are rising, so compensation will be a major concern among recent graduates. Just as important as the starting salary is the promise of future earnings down the road.
  • Good Benefits – If the organization offers an alluring benefits package — such as health insurance and paid time off — this is considered a huge plus. Since many college grads may have a significant student loan to pay off, help with health insurance costs is a very big deal.

What Do College Graduates Want in a Company?

In addition to paid job training, opportunities for advancement and great benefits, there are other important considerations for candidates looking for their first job out of college. Companies must learn how to appeal to the Generation Z job seeker.  

A flexible schedule is seen as a valuable “perk” for Gen Z workers. With the 24/7 online experience, they’re used to having their work and personal life merging and not structured around traditional 9-5 hours. Because of this, and the desire of many to raise families, flexibility is at the top of their wish list for job benefits. Does your organization let employees work flexible hours or occasionally telecommute?

Regular feedback is preferred by Gen Z employees, as opposed to the standard annual performance review. They appreciate having this information transfer be ongoing, so that they can keep meeting expectations. 

The balance of tech and personal interaction in the workplace is key for recent graduates. These individuals are highly tech-savvy, but they also want person-to-person interactions and a collaborative environment. 

In addition to compensation, today’s college graduates want to work at a company that aligns with their core values. They want to know that their efforts are contributing to a greater company goal and that they’re doing meaningful work. It isn’t just about a “fun culture” anymore — though that certainly doesn’t hurt!

How Can Your Organization Position Itself as an Employer of Choice When Recruiting Graduates?

Before advertising a position and starting the hiring process, take a good look at your organization’s image. Do you have a strong online presence and an exciting, informative website? Are you clearly stating your mission and objectives? Are you promoting the features that make your company attractive so you can recruit new college graduates?

Your business should:

  1. Have a highly visible online presence, including a robust website and profiles on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Glassdoor. For YouTube videos, you can record video job descriptions that describe the job and the company, and why it’s great to work there. Consider using actual employees’ stories and show the office environment.
  2. Always use a strong, clear marketing message that reflects your company, and highlight any industry awards you’ve received.
  3. Showcase your company’s brand and what makes it a great place to work (i.e. promotion rate, diversity, sustainability, community involvement.
  4. Advertise the company’s generous benefits package and commitment to career advancement on your career page. Include any other perks the company offers that can enhance your new hire’s lifestyle, such as free snacks throughout the day, special summer hours, a gym membership, company smartphone, student loan payment plan, stock options, great location, etc. Mention anything that makes your business stand out.
  5. Make sure that positions don’t have minimum requirements that exclude college hires (for example, entry-level jobs that require a college degree and two years of experience). Rethink hiring requirements; don’t expect a highly advanced skill set and direct experience from a recent college graduate. Instead, look for transferable skills; and include part-time jobs, volunteering and extracurricular activities as work experience.

The Value of Using Recruitment Professionals to Find Key Talent

While it is possible for a company to do their own recruiting and handle the entire hiring process, using a professional recruiting firm has many advantages. For one, they’re highly experienced at recruiting and have an existing talent pool for various industries. If they work regularly with your organization, they’ll know the types of candidates you’re looking for, which streamlines the entire process for a faster and more successful hire. 

Professional recruiters already have a strong internet presence and know how to effectively reach and recruit new college graduates, such as through on-campus recruiting and job fairs. They can help your company position itself so that you attract the most desirable new graduates. Most companies don’t have the necessary time for a thorough vetting process, which can waste a lot of valuable time. A recruiter does the initial work for you, so that you can instead focus on each interview — and on running your business.  

Ty Culver headshot
Written by

Ty Culver is the Client Development Director of CulverCareers focusing on talent acquisition and workforce solutions with a wide variety of local, national and global clients.

Ty has been working in various aspects of the industry for over 10 years and developed deep expertise in Executive Search, Executive Benefit and Talent Acquisition Programs along the way. He has a range of experience from SMB to Enterprise clients and hyper specific executive searches to high volume recruiting with companies in a dynamic state of flux.

Today, Ty leads a talented team of Talent Acquisition Specialists, Executive Recruiters and Client Success Managers at one of the most respected Recruiting Firms in the Nation, CulverCareers. While leadership is a key aspect of his role, Ty still enjoys working with clients on recruiting strategies, executive benefit solutions and workforce solutions to help clients build a holistic approach to talent acquisition and talent retention.

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