Samantha FinkenJune 13, 2019
Topics: Candidate Experience

How Can Your Company Attract Gen Z at Campus Recruiting Events?

If you thought recruiting millennials was challenging, comes Gen Z!

This new generation has an unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit and are even more driven to change the world than their predecessors. They’re also all about authenticity, which means they only support brands that say what they mean—they can see right through a sales pitch that has no substance. Of course, they’ve also spent their entire lives with personalized technology, starting with their first smartphones, video games, and music apps like Spotify.

All this means the old ways of recruiting at campus events are antiquated. Employers can no longer just set up a mediocre booth with a stack of printed brochures, branded pens, and business cards and call it a day. To capture the best and the brightest of this new generation of workers, companies need to rethink their entire campus recruiting strategy—and it starts with personalization.

Outside of stocking up on awesome swag, here are 4 ways to elevate your campus event strategy this year.

1. Learn what matters to the student body at each school.

Although it’s useful to get a general sense of the psychology behind Gen Z as a whole, every campus has a student body with a unique set of characteristics and values. Take the time to ask event organizers and campus faculty for these insights. Then, tailor your messaging accordingly at each campus event.

One simple tactic is to keep up on major sporting events, and ask students if they are heading to the game, or comment on their recent win. Or, maybe the school hosts a large charity event every year, such as a dance-a-thon to raise money for cancer research. You could ask them if they’re participating, praise the school for the effort, and even donate to the cause yourself.

This personalized approach will make students feel like you’ve taken the time to understand what really matters to them, which leaves a memorable impression.

Pro tip: A campus event management tool will not only help you keep track of faculty contact information, but it will also provide an easy way to keep notes about campus culture for each school. You can refer to these notes long after all campus events blur together in your team’s collective memory.

2. Diversify your booth staff.

There are a couple of ways to tackle diversity at your booth.

Consider sending a hiring manager, team lead, or even alumni to the event along with your recruiters. Your recruiters are well-versed in how to attract students by talking about perks and benefits, but for students, those details start to blend together in their memory.

Interested students want to talk about the nuances of their actual career path at your company with the folks who will actually shape that path. Sending non-HR staff lends more authenticity to your company’s overall pitch, allowing students to envision what the company will be able to do for their career while also contributing value to the company.

Another thing to be mindful of is how important diversity matters to Gen Z, however you slice and dice it (e.g., age, gender, culture)—and they’ve grown wary of companies only paying lip service to it. Instead of telling candidates that you are diverse, be sure to be authentic and send staff that represents your company’s diversity.

3. Listen to your candidates.

You’ve done it—after your elevator pitch is complete and general formalities have been exchanged, you now have a student hanging on your every word. That’s great! However, now is the time to stop talking and start listening.

You and your team should be trained in how to actively listen to each person who visits your booth. After giving the elevator pitch, start asking questions about what the student is studying, what intrigues them about their major, and what they want from their career. Further, students want to know what they will be doing in a role each day and what they will get out of it in the long run; by listening, you will be able to appeal to the student’s aspirations with specific details of a role at your company.

Showing genuine interest in each candidate delivers the most personalized experience possible at the event, and leaves a favorable impression on the candidate. Even if these job seekers don’t end up pursuing your company, they’re more likely to tell their friends how great you were!

Pro tip: Don’t just converse with attendees. 75% of career fair attendees want to see a demo—and they remember what they visualize rather than what they hear. So go ahead and show them what they’d be working on!

4. Follow up with candidates ASAP after the event.

So you’ve personalized the experience for candidates at the event and you feel great about who you met. Now what? Make contact as soon as possible!

You should follow up with the attendee within 48 hours after the event. This signals to candidates that they truly made a good impression and that your organization is really excited about them. It also shows that you sincerely want to keep in contact, rather than letting them feel like an afterthought. (Remember, authenticity matters!)

There are a couple of ways to follow up with candidates effectively. One way is through email. You can add links to helpful resources, such as a landing page of job listings and links to the company’s EVP. (Looking for ideas to make emails as engaging as possible? Check out our TA Toolkit, packed with event follow-up templates.)

You can also SMS message candidates. Keep the message short and sweet, such as: “It was so great to meet you yesterday! Check out [job landing page] to learn more about opportunities at [your company].”

Pro Tip: An event management tool with a mobile app and SMS capability makes it easier to record candidate information on site and text candidates right after the event. This not only increases candidate engagement, but it also saves time for recruiters!

We don’t yet know everything about this new generation, but you will definitely attract them to your organization by being authentic, open-minded, and engaging.

Want to learn more about how technology can help your staff optimize their time and attract candidates at campus events? Check out Phenom University Recruiting.

Samantha Finken

Samantha is in content marketing at Phenom People, where she is passionate about enhancing every talent experience. She also enjoys taking photos, traveling, and bonding with her team. 

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