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  • Think in New Ways to Attract Innovative and Entrepreneurial Students

    July 20, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Branding & Marketing
    Three students share ideas and show each other their business ideas.

    TAGS: branding and marketing

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    There is great value in hiring entrepreneurial-minded students, according to Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp.

    “Entrepreneurial, bright students will help spark innovation and disrupt outdated procedures within your company,” Wessel says. “They are often tech-savvy and out-of-the-box thinkers, and can help companies avoid being disrupted in a very short period of time by technology, assuming the employees are listened to.”

    However, traditional companies can find it difficult to identify and attract these students.

    “University recruiting hasn’t changed in meaningful ways in a while, but the landscape has,” Wessel says, adding that there are two main reasons why it has historically been difficult for traditional companies to attract innovative students.

    First, Wessel says that traditional businesses—even those with great marketing teams—often don’t know how to talk about their employment opportunities in a way that attracts young, innovative talent. Most traditional companies rely on the fact that they pay well and have a track record as a company.

    “For example, they forget to talk about the social impact that their employees have when they go to work every day,” she says. “Students care about way more than the salary and the ‘status’ of your company.”

    Second, companies that mainly rely on career fairs and select school job boards (especially at just a few schools) are not going to reach the scale of innovative and diverse talent that they want to reach.  Between travel and accommodations, the traditional university recruiting budget is quickly met.

    “Companies can avoid these mistakes by understanding what this generation of job seekers deem important, and by being authentic,” Wessel says. “Companies can also help themselves find and attract more innovative talent by looking for applicants with a wider range of backgrounds and experience. For example, a student with four years of on-campus barista experience could be much more valuable than you may think at first glance.”

    Wessel also recommends that organizations looking to attract entrepreneurial and innovative students need to walk the talk by embracing new technology, something she says more traditional companies tend to shy away from.

    “Using digital ads versus on-campus fliers, trying to reach students through authentic, social campaigns versus e-mail, and more,” she says. “This generation of students was practically born with a phone in their hand so, take advantage of that and constantly test out new ways to interact and engage with your potential future hires.”

    Wessel offers several other tips for traditional companies to employ to attract innovative, entrepreneurial student talent, including:

    • Opening up your search requirements to facilitate more diverse hires.
    • Thinking of your recruiting strategy as a year-round effort, rather than a two-month sprint.
    • Talking about your employment brand in an authentic way.
    • Highlighting social impact opportunities if a candidate joins your organization.

    “At the end of the day,” Wessel says, “no one is an absolute expert in their industry, and bringing on employees who have had different experiences will only further your company’s growth both externally and internally.”