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Employer spotlights, Improving employer brand, Event marketing, Early talent trends

How Ally, United Airlines, and Milwaukee Tool win with a hybrid campus recruiting strategy

In-person career fairs are on the rise. Handshake data found that 82% of career fairs during the spring 2023 recruiting season were in person, compared to 65% in 2022 and 38% in 2021. But that doesn’t mean virtual recruiting is a relic of pandemic times.

In fact, if there’s one lesson top employers have taken with them from the past 2 years, it’s this:

Virtual strategies are a critical component to maximizing reach and winning top, diverse talent.

So, where does that leave a recruiting team building their strategy?

During Handshake’s back to school boot camp, talent leaders from Ally, United Airlines, and Milwaukee Tools share the most compelling reasons why building an intentional, hybrid strategy helps their teams optimize their time, resources, and results during busy fall and spring recruiting seasons.

Get more reach and a bigger recruiting footprint

One of the most common in-person ruts talent leaders fall into is retreading the same old stomping grounds. There may be a handful of local universities you have deep partnerships with, or you hit all the local career fairs within a few hundred miles, but that’s all you have time (and travel budget) for.

Before virtual, this was all most organizations could do. But with a hybrid recruiting strategy, you can build your employer brand with more diverse Gen Z talent, even as you narrow your team’s focus on engaging qualified candidates.

A recent found that women, students of color, and neurodivergent students found virtual career events and interviews less anxiety-inducing and more accessible when compared to meeting with prospective employers in person. By offering both in-person and virtual options, you ensure your brand is accessible to more talent.

“We have a list of a dozen or so schools especially close to our main campuses or hubs owned and prioritized by the on-campus team,” says Joe. This clear delineation of responsibilities allows his virtual recruiting team to focus on using Handshake to access a network of over 13M+ students and alumni at 1,400+ schools and build a more diverse and widespread pipeline of top early talent—talent that may never have heard of them, otherwise. “It lets tap into an entirely new talent pool that we simply weren't able to prioritize in the past,” he says.

Joe’s virtual team even provides air support for the on-campus team, supplementing their handshakes and conversations with virtual engagements like mock interview days and resume workshops for university students.

Working in harmony, this hybrid strategy delivers maximum reach, engagement, and authenticity.

Joe reveals how Ally strategically segments and targets their student audience to maximize hiring results:

Deliver a better candidate experience

Not all talented candidates feel most comfortable meeting in person or even can meet in person, perhaps due to geography, work, or illness. Just take our student panel speaker, Brynali Marshall, from another boot camp session, for example; she’s studying abroad this semester. And as our studies in the previous section revealed, many candidates from underrepresented groups prefer virtual options before engaging in person. Compared to in-person events, most Black and Hispanic students were more likely to apply to positions after attending a virtual career event because they felt higher degrees of connectedness to employers.

A hybrid strategy also gives you the flexibility to deliver the recruiting journey asynchronously—and the speed it creates. Instead of waiting for the on-campus team to travel, meet candidates over several days, travel back, debrief everyone, decide the next steps, and repeat for every visit you can let your team work whenever they’re free, wherever they’re free.

“Our team can only be in so many places at once, and the recruiting season is so short,” says Mel. “We free up the team by doing all of our interviews virtually on a rolling basis. We’re providing a lot of value to our candidates and hiring team if we can get them through that hiring process faster.”

And with a platform like Handshake that gives you a central place for anyone on your team—including recruiters, alumni, and employee advocates—to quickly and easily message candidates, your talent pipeline gets more personalized touches, more often in their journey.

Hear more from Mel on how Milwaukee Tool creates a more delightful—and fast—candidate experience

Innovate with low-risk, high reward

A hybrid strategy also creates a safe sandbox for experimentation that keeps up with the speed of your business.

For innovation-minded talent leaders, testing new tactics, strategies, and schools through virtual events is a low-risk way to collect data before making high-stakes decisions to head on-campus.

“We use it as a way to try new things. Maybe we want to test a new messaging strategy or look deeper into a different academic focus or geographic area,” says Xandro. With travel arrangements, physical materials, and significant budget investment, talent leaders may experience a lot of resistance to making drastic changes to their on-campus strategy. But not so with the virtual component of a hybrid strategy. “This testing and experimenting ends up providing us with a more diverse applicant pool, which is exactly what we’re looking for,” he says.

Learn how Xandro’s team builds relationships with students to help them discover roles at United Airlines

Watch the full conversation—and check out all the sessions—right now

The benefits of a hybrid recruiting strategy can be enormous this fall, and Handshake can give you a headstart by providing the platform you need to manage it all in one place. To watch the full recording of our conversation—or to explore more content from our back to school boot camp—head to the hub >>

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