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Top tips from CVS Health to drive meaningful student engagement

Get inspired by a campus recruiting strategy that has earned CVS Health 3 Handshake Early Talent Awards! Learn program highlights and top tips for engaging students.

Hiring across 30 business areas for 500 internships and 400 direct hire or leadership development roles, CVS Health finds campus recruiting success with:

  • Agility to student preferences and marketplace trends
  • Responsiveness to what they hear from school partners
  • Engaging current employees, and school alumni, in events
  • Using data to make business decisions and adapt strategy

Learn from CVS Health's program highlights and top tips for campus recruiting.

Campus recruiting program highlights

Reaching candidates with customized messages at the right time

CVS Health is intentional about customizing message templates and testing what resonates. This strategy has been proven successful, with over 64% of over 9,000 referred applications having received proactive outreach. “Handshake has been incredible with giving us feedback on campaign schedules and when we’re getting the most out of our campus outreach,” said Talent Acquisition Manager Amanda K., who herself started at CVS Health as an intern and has explored various career paths within the company since then.

In fact, Handshake was instrumental in helping CVS Health add outreach to the right students for their student mentorship program, which allows students to explore careers throughout the entire CVS corporation. This nationwide, mostly virtual program is run with their affinity groups and focused on freshmen and sophomore students at HBCUs and HSIs.

“Without Handshake, I don’t think we’d have been as successful with this [mentorship] program. We’re able to engage students across geographic markets, across types of schools, and track communications. There's great tracking and usage across outreach to engage with these students. If a student isn't ready just yet, we can keep up engagement in Handshake and tap them when they are ready. Beyond the program, we can make them aware of when they’re eligible to participate in internships and post-grad programs. It’s been a big win and is showing growth.”

Andréa J., Sr. Program Manager, Corporate University Relations

Widening school partnerships to tap into more talent

Being school-agnostic has helped CVS Health reach talent segments that deepen relationships, and deliver DEI results and deepen relationships.

Shelby S., Talent Acquisition Manager, said that CVS Health became aware of a huge opportunity gap while attending the Handshake Access 2022 conference. Several companies had discussed opening up to community colleges to find more diverse, skilled talent.

By partnering with Handshake, Shelby and her team built a business case powered by data that showed CVS Health was excluding 70% of qualified candidates by closing off their Store Manager recruiting from community college students. In partnering with Handshake, CVS was able to leverage robust data analytics to increase applicant pipeline through marketing to junior colleges.

A range of employees—not just recruiters—attend career fairs

The #1 reason students prefer to attend career fairs before applying is to ensure there are growth and development opportunities, according to Handshake survey data.*

CVS Health has tested and learned what type of event format works best for certain roles. For example, the team uses Handshake to offer coffee chats throughout the day and into the evening. This strategy has been successful in particular to reach candidates for digital and IT roles.

The ability to reach students from a broad range of schools and across diverse backgrounds has been appealing to leadership.“There should be no difference between in-person and virtual. The experience should always be very clear, intimate and a good experience,” Amanda said. “We’re the program owners, the strategists, the connectors of early talent to our Retail organization. We approach every campus event with an enterprise mindset.”

Building relationships, and their brand, with agility

Not only does CVS Health engage with every school on Handshake, they look to alumni to help build partnerships with schools and establish the brand on campus. They want alumni who attend fairs and events to be an example of what success from that student’s school can look like. They invite employees to attend fairs and events to foster authentic connections with students, add representation, and speak to growth potential at CVS Health.

CVS Health invites a variety of different individuals with a mix of career opportunities to showcase that working at CVS doesn't always mean being at the store—they like to showcase all enterprise opportunities.

Handshake survey data has found that 87% of students prefer to attend employer-hosted events before applying for a job.*

Key takeaways from a winning team

Amanda, Andréa, and Shelby have valuable perspectives considering the scope of their roles—from overseeing how their teams use Handshake day-to-day, to planning strategic early talent programming, to presenting business cases. With CVS Health having earned a Handshake Early Talent Award for 3 out of 3 years, keep in mind their key takeaways for campus recruiting:

  • Strategies cannot stay stagnant—evaluate every year to make sure it aligns with your business needs.
  • To maximize pipeline and ensure students can see a long term career, be intentional about your internship program. Look for individuals who can elevate your brand, and grow.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new. Look at ROI to secure buy-in from leadership. It can be the success of smaller pilot programs that proves there’s an appetite to grow them.

“Fortunately, there’s no shortage of employees at CVS Health who want to come on campus. A lot of our leaders started out as interns, and have grown their careers into something exceptional.”

Shelby S., Talent Acquisition Manager

*Survey data from Handshake internal study, December 2022; n=1,692

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