4 Things Employers Look For in Target Schools

As a former campus recruiter, I have worked at PayPal-Venmo, RBC Capital Markets and Moelis & Company – three very different firms with vastly different hiring processes, candidate needs and company cultures. This gave me a bird’s eye view of how employers pick their target schools and the top four things they look for when they are identifying the universities they should partner with.

Alumni Networks

When identifying target schools, step one is always to survey the current organization – what schools did the overall team attend, and where did successful recent graduate hires go? This is a great starting process as it is data-backed and easy to present to leadership teams. Recruiters look for schools with the most overall hires, but also try to look wholistically to identify emerging trends towards new schools for a diverse talent pool.

The less tangible benefit of this approach is that passionate alumni typically make the strongest, most helpful recruitment partners. They’re willing to put in long hours above and beyond their day jobs to review resumes, travel to campuses and conduct interviews. They’re also the best tool in helping to close candidates from their alma maters!

Rules and Regulations Set by Career Services

Campus targets and timelines are mapped out months before hiring begins e.g. recruiters started mapping out the summer 2017 hiring process in February/March of 2016! While researching where and when to interview, recruiters also look at how stringent career services restrictions are. Recruiters evaluate target schools based on the following questions:

  • When does the recruitment process start and end?
  • Can you only interview on certain days?
  • What are the restrictions on second round interviews?
  • Are there fees associated with interviewing? Are sponsorships required for key recruitment services and interview dates?
  • Are offer deadlines  strictly imposed?

I don’t mean to imply that schools with strict rules and regulations do not make target school lists – after all, many of these schools are well regarded by students and employers both, and have established these rules to ensure the best experience for both students and recruiters. However, recruiters need to work just a little bit harder to understand these rules and plan their hiring approach and timeline accordingly.

Student Brand Recognition

Campus visits cost employers thousands of dollars in travel fees, catering, sponsorship and registration costs; in fact, the average annual university recruitment budget is well over half a million dollars. At that price tag, it’s safe to say employers want to ensure that they’re reaching as many qualified and interested students as possible for the highest ROI. Employers want to go to campuses with positive competitive landscapes, where students are eager to apply.

To measure competitiveness, employers typically try to assess the following factors:

  • How big is the overall targeted population e.g. the number of students who are majoring in business, computer science, fashion design, etc.?
  • Who is their competition on-campus? How strong is their presence? Is the campus over-saturated with high-quality employers?
  • How likely are their top picks to have multiple offers? Can these top picks be converted?

Partnering with Employer Relations

As a recruiter, my employer relations partners were key to helping me think through my recruitment timeline from the students’ perspective. They would help ensure I wasn’t planning my second round interviews during finals, and that a competitor wouldn’t be presenting at the exact same time. The best partners set-up frequent calls and check-ins to see how things were going, offer student and competitor insights and made suggestions on which candidates would make great hires for our firm specifically.

The best campus recruiters know that their university counterparts are invaluable in ensuring that top talent doesn’t slip through the cracks due to timing or technique mistakes. Incidentally, here at WayUp we believe that our university partners are crucial to our mission as you are true thought leaders on your students’s needs, employers and the best recruitment practices at your institutions. Employers want to recruit at universities where they’re guaranteed a thoughtful partner in ensuring a seamless process and strong ROI.

Due to the high costs (time, money and people resources) of on-campus recruitment, even the largest teams can only be at 10-20 schools each year – this hurts employers because they don’t benefit from other diverse student populations. But this also hurts universities as they don’t get access to as many employers, and ultimately it hurts students the most as they don’t get access to as many employers and potential jobs as they could otherwise get. This is why here at WayUp, we’re partnering with hundreds of career services teams (like you!) to help 9,000+ employers expand their reach to over half a million students at the thousands of other amazing institutions across the country.

Liane Hajduch, Head of University Partnerships

Liane has over 5 years of campus recruitment management experience - she hired, trained, mentored and developed hundreds of top candidates in both technology (Venmo/PayPal) and financial services (RBC Capital Markets, Moelis & Company). At WayUp, she partners with career services professionals across the nation to work together to help students find meaningful jobs and internships.