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Strategies to recruit students where they are this spring

When you’re recruiting early talent, the spring season is a critical time to engage candidates. Learn five strategies to attract, target, and connect with students this spring.

When you’re recruiting early talent, the spring season is a critical time to engage candidates. Outside of the fall rush, spring recruiting season is busy for campus recruiting:

  • January: highest volume of messaging
  • February: fairs and events are everywhere!
  • March: internship and job posts peak

It’s nonstop! But you know the time for talent teams to attract, engage, and build pipeline is now. With the summer or graduation on the horizon, students are searching for internships or jobs and are eager to connect with employers about opportunities.

5 strategies to recruit students where they are this spring

Making the most of the spring recruiting season requires planning on your end, so put some time and energy into these five recruiting strategies and you’ll reap the rewards—in the form of engaged candidates, qualified applications, and a pipeline you’re excited about.

1. Brand strategy

When it comes to informing candidates about why your company is a great place to build a career, your employer brand does a lot of the hard work for you. So it’s worth polishing your brand strategy and making sure your Handshake company profile is up to date before the spring recruiting season is in full swing.

What are early career candidates looking at to get a sense of your brand? Testimonials, social media content, company news, and the overall candidate experience are some examples.

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2. Sourcing strategy

You can get proactive and targeted about your candidates outreach—especially since 80%+ of students want to receive at least some informational messages from potential employers1.

Message students directly to send more information about your company, invite them to meet your team at an upcoming career fair or event you’re hosting, and nurture talent who may not be ready to apply yet—but will be come fall.

Did you know? You can use Handshake to apply filters and build segments for bulk messaging campaigns to get more efficient, while surfacing the most qualified applicants. Learn more.

3. Internship and job posting strategy

Your employer brand will help candidates understand what to expect from your organization. Your job descriptions are an opportunity to sell early talent on your organization.

Reflect on how you can use skills-based hiring to source students and new grads more inclusively. For example, emphasize the competencies you’re hiring for rather than detailing specific degree types or years of experience in job descriptions for early career professionals.

A Handshake Network Trends report found that 50% of 2024 graduates say they’re more likely to apply to a company that provides employer-sponsored upskilling resources.

Since March sees high internship and job post volume, make sure you’re tuned into what students want in a job description. Use Handshake’s job form to include your key criteria plus learning and development opportunities, salary range, and benefits.

4. School strategy

Even though spring recruiting season is one of your busiest times, you know you can’t be everywhere at once. So it’s important to be strategic about where you focus your time and efforts.

While it might feel manageable to recruit from only a subset of schools, you can maximize Handshake to partner with 1,500+schools in the community. Expanding your school strategy will make your team more efficient and more effective at connecting with the talent you need, while saving you time and budget to focus your efforts.

Handshake is the system of record for 91% of the top 500 schools in the US, making it easy for you to explore new school partnerships and tap into new talent pools.

Where are college students going after they graduate?

Students and recent grads are more open now than in the past to applying to locations beyond where they attend or attended.

Learn more

5. Fairs and events strategy

Handshake survey data found that 87% of students prefer to attend an event before applying to a job as part their discovery process.

Reach out to students on Handshake who meet your criteria ahead of time and encourage them to check out your company. Afterward, make sure to send post-event follow-up messages to the talent you connected with.

To increase your attendance, broaden your reach, and build a more diverse pool of applicants, pursue a hybrid strategy—a blend of virtual and in-person fairs and events.

Handshake Events simplifies your career fairs and events strategy with streamlined check-ins, planning of interviews, and instant access to candidate profiles. Learn more.

Keep in mind that your events strategy doesn’t have to include only school-sponsored career fairs. Planning and hosting your own creative events, like Q&As with your hiring team or panels about your company values, can help you further engage early talent.

Strategically spring into recruiting season

Spring brings along an air of freshness and opportunity—and that’s especially true for students who are planning their next steps (and the companies that are eager to hire them).

But opportunity doesn’t bloom simply with the change of season. You need to invest time and energy into refining your strategies to make the most of spring recruiting. After all, April showers bring May flowers, but it’s thoughtful preparation and planning that bring recruitment wins.

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1. Handshake pulse survey, Q1 2024 | N = 1,073

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