By Mallory Wheaton | Employer Success Lead at Handshake

With the avalanche of Fall recruiting season quickly approaching, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could show your leadership team that the schools you allocate resources to recruit at, you recruit at for very specific reasons — all backed by robust student data? Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if you could track and measure the success of those schools to maximize your on-campus investment, diversify your candidate pool, and expand your reach?

Handshake has deep insights on 9 million college students across 500 schools — helping you understand where they are and what they’re looking for. All that data can and should be used to mold an expansive and inclusive campus recruiting strategy that drives the results your recruiting organization needs to see.

A movement away from the ‘core school list’ strategy

Handshake’s employer team has been having hundreds of conversations with university recruiting teams of all shapes and sizes on their campus recruiting strategy. The traditional nucleus of any university recruiting team (and strategy) is the idea of a ‘core school’ list. Core school lists are so central to university recruiting that recruiters are often hired into roles dedicated to one or three or ten schools, depending on scale.

While it makes sense that a given team can’t visit all 2,000 accredited four-year institutions in the United States, most of these core school lists are based off a number of antiquated factors: company location, prestige, and everyone’s favorite: the CEO’s alma mater. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on these core schools — career fairs, coffee chats, even snow cone machines to compete for talent. And is there any real data to prove that these are the optimal schools for your organization to recruit at?

Set data-driven goals

The easiest way to take your data-driven strategy from 0 to 1 is to start by defining your goals or Key Performance Indicators at the beginning of the recruiting season. Even if your leadership team has not impressed these goals upon you, creating your own can be a great way to introduce quantitative metrics into legacy college recruiting practices. Some example goals that we hear a lot:

  • Increase the number of applicants in our pipeline
  • Increase the number of schools that we recruit from
  • Increase the number of qualified candidates in our pipeline
  • Increase the number of underrepresented candidates in our pipeline

No matter your undergraduate recruiting goals, a good first step towards achieving them is almost always to take a second look at the schools you recruit from. Perhaps you’ve always recruited at Amaranta University, but your business goals have changed. Maybe you’ve had a lot of great success with students who graduate with an Electrical Engineering degree from Handshake University, but that approach has lead to a homogeneous start class year-over-year. Taking a harder look at data can help you broaden your reach and increase the quality and diversity of applicants.

Leverage the power of Handshake to achieve your goals

Once you’ve set these goals, you can turn to Handshake to find data on 500+ schools that match what you’re looking for. Start by using the student search to see which schools have the most students in your priority segments. Maybe you’re wondering which schools have the most students who want to work in Albany, New York? Or which schools have large populations of underrepresented minorities. Or maybe you only hire Software engineers and are wondering which schools have the most technical talent. In any case, you can build your priority segments on Handshake and quickly see which schools those students go to.

Finally, for your more complex segments, or if you’re looking for a more comprehensive list, Handshake has custom reporting tools that we can employ to help you craft your ideal school list. About 80% of our premium partners used Handshake data to craft their Fall 2018 school lists.

For example, did you know that Columbia University, Boston University, and Stony Brook University have the most students interested in Sales AND working in Cherry Hill, New Jersey?

Or that Georgia State University graduates as many Black business majors as all the HBCUs in the area combined?

Fisher Investments used Handshake to expand their reach from ~30 schools to 350+ schools in Fall 2017. In fact, with Handshake, 4 of their top 10 schools by application were virtual schools (schools they didn’t visit on campus).

Expand your reach virtually

Now that you’re thinking about a data-backed list of schools, we see many employers bifurcating their strategy into two parts: the schools they visit on campus and the schools they recruit from virtually. This allows for a smoother transition into a longer and more expansive school list. With a two-tiered strategy, recruiting teams are able to appease stakeholders who believe strongly that your team should maintain a heavy on campus presence while still ‘trying out’ new schools by cycling them into your school strategy.

If investing heavily in a subset of on campus schools, it is important to keep in mind that Harvard Business Review reports that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. Some companies, like Google, are taking innovative measures like setting a cap on the number of hires from any given school to make sure incoming classes are from a wide variety of backgrounds. Others are using Handshake’s data to track how many applications are coming from various schools within Handshake so that they might adjust their strategy at particular schools as needed.

No matter your goals or the scale of your program, Handshake believes that an expansive school list is the first step towards meeting them. Recruiting from more schools means more qualified applicants from more diverse backgrounds, which means helping to do our part to bridge the opportunity gap.

Looking for other ways to be data driven in your recruiting strategy? Make sure you have direct ATS apply set up and drop us a line.