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How Companies Use Branding to Attract Top College Talent

By Universum on 03/04/2017

“We’re never going to be Google.”
“Not everyone can look like Apple.”

When it comes to hiring top talent, there’s a plethora of phrases that keep talent acquisition leaders comfortable with avoiding strategic employer branding initiatives. While it’s absolutely true that there will only ever be one Facebook, that doesn’t mean your organization can’t be deliberate in attracting top candidates. 

This is especially true in college hiring, where the vast majority of candidates are young, connected Millennials with an affinity for technology and a habit for forming strong opinions based on company reputation.

Want to understand the misunderstood? Our 6-part series takes a deep look at how to successfully attract, hire and manage the Millennial generation.

This new generation of job seekers scour the internet to find out everything they can about a potential employer, and that all happens before they even submit an application. It doesn’t matter if you’re an industry leader or a growing regional brand, these candidates are using their resources and networks to dig deep into what makes you a good choice for their skills. 67% of job seekers access an employer’s social profiles to learn more about the organizational culture, with 80% use the information to prepare for interviews.
To be an employer of choice takes a dedication to cultivating your employer brand, not a big budget with globally recognized name. Even more, your initiatives can begin immediately. Here are the 5 ways companies use branding tactics to attract top college talent:
Take the first step in auditing your brand with this resource:

They Choose the Right Locale

No, this isn’t about being headquartered in the Silicon Valley or finding an office on the coast. It’s choosing the right location for your message. No longer are college graduates turning solely to career fairs for connections. Instead, they’re making them everyday in real-time through social media and crowdsourcing review platforms.
Even more, these job seekers are turning to mobile technology to research potential employers and apply for positions. Companies who interest college talent are present on social networks, have responsive career pages and a mobile-friendly application process. They also have a personality and voice that’s uniquely their own.

Tweet This: Do you have a mobile recruiting strategy to attract top college talent? Try these steps:

Make it Happen: To attract the attention of college talent, you have to understand who they are and where they go for information, then develop a message that both resonates and suits the avenue. First, make sure you’ve made a presence on the web. No matter the industry, today’s job seeker, especially a new graduate, is taking to the web to do research and make decisions on who they will spend time building resumes and cover letters for. Enlisting in the help of partner who can conduct custom research on external audiences is the first step. For example, our research finds 78% of Gen Z students in the U.S. prefer in-person options, while just 50% of Gen X professionals in the U.S. say they prefer in-person training. It’s information like this that gives you the advantage in attracting what today’s job seekers want from employers.

Tweet This: .@UniversumGlobal crunched the numbers on what each generation of students wants in a career. The results:

Career pages with information on your company and culture will be pivotal to collecting applications, especially if it’s a mobile-friendly experience. Not to mention, this can help facilitate parts of the interview, showing who actually took the time to consider themselves as employees in your company.

Additionally, you should be taking your brand to the social networks with which your newly graduated candidates are so familiar with. Social media is free, but so powerful in spreading information and forming bonds. Interactions are digital, so candidates feel more comfortable communicating with brands.

Meanwhile, content can be anything from short phrases to images to video, which are both interesting and great tools for spreading information about your physical office, team antics, job openings, company events and anything else that tells your story. It’s reported that 69% of candidates are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand. If you use a tool like Iris you can measure your success on social media and even get suggestions based off of what resonates best with your audience. Remember, company culture is important and often the foundation of matching hires, both from the employer and candidate’s perspective. Where a company chooses to spread their message says a great deal about who they are as an organization.

They Create Conversations

Branding is all about the conversations you inspire. Companies who understand this don’t wait for their market to start talking, they facilitate the dialog. Universum Iris, for example, targets talent in specific pools depending on the experience they have and industry they specialize in, then helps that talent understand the company’s social content. Iris breaks down your brand’s messaging by assigning attributes to each post that capture the nuances of particular verticals. In other words, you’re speaking the language your talent understands and uses on a daily basis, adding authenticity to your message.  

In order to do this, they create situations that are worthy of being shared with the understanding that many college talent associate employer brand with consumer brand. This is an especially important lesson for companies who don’t have a customer facing business or lack tangible products. Instead, they must build excitement around the intangibles like work environment and team interactions.
Make it Happen: First and foremost, companies who use branding to attract college talent understand where the college talent is (see above point). They also understand that creating share-worthy moments doesn’t mean holding weekly office parties. Building interest can be done with something as simple as employee spotlights or nice shots of the company’s office building.

“There is no perfect recipe for workplace happiness, but the key is managing expectations so people don’t get frustrated… You need to understand what is attractive to current employees and potential employees and showcase how you live and breathe those values in your organization.” – Andre Siqueira, director of Latin America at Universum.

Go further by encouraging employees, especially previous college hires, to share these posts or create their own for their personal networks. A 2016 Glassdoor report found that 72% of people trust content provided by friends or family and 52% of job seekers trust content provided by employees. Depending on your industry, phones may not be allowed in every part of your facility or at all parts of the day, so it’s important to capitalize on company and team events when they happen.

They Understand Their Value

Companies who attract the attention of college talent know what it is they’ve got that no one else does. Not everyone can have unlimited vacation policies like Netflix, but even the smallest company has something that keeps employees happy, healthy and engaged.
Understanding what that draw is or could be gives companies a direction to take their employer brand. It often builds future strategic recruitment marketing processes and even allows for more productivity among current staff. Not to mention, it highlights the reasons you really do deserve top college talent. You might not be Facebook, but you can hire skilled college graduates.

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Make it Happen: There are a couple of ways to begin understanding your value as an employer. The first is by directly communicating with your staff. Is there something you do or offer they love? Is there a perk they asked for that actually took off and receives great participation numbers? Another great way to nail down your selling point is to look at the benefits and perks programs of your competitors. If you’re doing something they aren’t, make sure it’s featured on your career page or in your employer brand messaging. It can make all the difference for job seekers.
There will always be those big names who attract the attention of talent, however, it doesn’t take a multimillion dollar company to garner top college talent. In fact, all it really takes is a deep understanding of the candidates you hope to hire and accurately communicating your own shining culture.

Don’t know how to start building your strategic employer brand? Download our Employer Brand Starter Guide and start really speaking to skilled candidates.