In the Indian context, there is great emphasis on choosing the right colleges and institutions. One of the prime parameters that educational institutions get evaluated on is their placement record. The placement percentage and the average salary package play a significant role in determining the choice of educational institution. Along with other factors such as infrastructure and quality of education, these parameters add value to the ranking and credibility of the institution.
In the post-pandemic world, graduating Gen Z students are showing a marked shift in their career choices. While some are braving it to go the start-up way, others are becoming very selective about picking their employer. Knowledge is power, and they have every piece of information they need at their fingertips. Organisations must understand these changing attitudes and focus on specific outreach programs that appeal to this crowd.
Not surprisingly, it all boils down to employer branding, which goes much beyond a one-time placement activity on campus. Even before you step into the campus, there is already a perception of your employer brand in the minds of students. If it is good, it becomes easy for you to step in and build on it. If not, you might have to start from scratch to gain a foothold on their list.
Indeed, employer branding plays an all-pervasive role in the choice of students wanting to associate with your brand in any way. So, what factors affect the perception of employer branding on campus? A study on the topic, ‘Factors Influencing the Employer Brand Perception of Campus Recruits: An empirical evidence from India’, published on the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University site, presents some interesting findings. It says social media presence is a huge influencing factor in employer branding campus perceptions. And social media presence does not just mean your posts on social media channels. It covers the entire spectrum of your digital presence – an up-to-date website, implementing digital recruitment strategies such as online assessments, your CSR activities, and their societal impact, etc.
Let us explore what you can do to build your employer branding for effective campus hiring. These strategies are meant not just for this season but for the long term, considering the expectations of Gen Alpha are similar to Gen Z. Here are four ways you can build your campus employer brand.
- Plan activities throughout the year
A recent news article about a prestigious business school’s successful Class of 23 placement season mentioned how they ensure round-the-year engagement with potential recruiters. Are you one of those employers who believe it pays to do so? If not, it might be time you changed your campus recruitment strategy towards engaging with students throughout the year.
Employer branding is an impression built in the students’ minds based on many factors. It does not happen in a day or a week. Plan various events across the year, such as webinars, hackathons, internships, industry talks, and even office visits to engage with a wide section of students. Plan to share information about your office culture, CSR activities, vision, mission, etc., with them through these activities. Pre-placement engagement is the most crucial time to build an employer brand. To help you in this endeavour, you could find and engage some campus brand ambassadors to front-end your brand. The key is to remain visible throughout the year and not only during the placement season.
- Create a positive and authentic online presence
An authentic, positive, and powerful online presence is intricately linked with your business culture and CSR activities. You must understand what social causes students identify with and focus your CSR activities on those causes. Create positive stories on social media about the societal impact you are making with your CSR activities. Plan for engaging social media campaigns like quizzes, themed competitions, and more, so it adds to a positive employer brand perception.
You must also pay special attention to your careers page and ensure it reflects your company’s authentic and diverse culture, with growth stories and more. Little things make a deep impression! Hence, be sensitive about the language used in your social media posts, job postings, etc. Remember, social media is a double-edged sword. A single post that sends the wrong message can take years to live down. All the hard work you have put in for years to build the employer brand will come to nought.
Fine-tune your HR policies to incorporate flexible-working hours, remote/hybrid work options, encourage learning and development through skill building, etc. Post positive employee stories that mention how these policies supported people’s growth through a work-life balance. You could also find some alumni to create and share videos of their experience.
- Embrace digitisation in end-to-end campus hiring
Online assessments are a big plus for creating positive employer brand perceptions, says the study we quoted above. Digitise your campus recruitment end-to-end to gain benefits at every stage. AI-powered platforms can speed up the filtering, scheduling, etc., to remove lags from your hiring process. Proctored online assessments can help evaluate candidates across many competencies, at scale. The automation, speed, accuracy, and objectivity gained through digitisation, can also help create a strong impression of your employer brand.
However, be aware that at the entry level, up to 30-50% of candidates cheat in online assessments. To ensure your online assessments are fraud-proof, opt for the robust HirePro end-to-end campus hiring platform with advanced proctoring capabilities to detect malpractices.
Use digitisation to elevate candidate experiences. Explore recruitment gamification for added benefits and also pique their interest. Keep engaging with students even after rolling out the offer, as this is a crucial aspect of employer brand perception. Finally, ensure that you make onboarding memorable, as it is the beginning of their professional journey, and it matters. For all you know, many years later, these people could be your sterling brand ambassadors who will tell tales to an incoming batch.
- Maintain a human touch
While digitisation is essential, it is equally important not to compromise on the special connect of the human touch. Encourage your team members to visit the campus periodically and personally engage with students whenever possible. Even people at the leadership level can pay odd visits to build confidence in your employer branding. Bonding over activities can become your mantra to humanise an otherwise digitised hiring activity. This aspect can take your employer brand up by a few notches.
You could also arrange for aspirants who excelled in some activities to get to spend a day at your office campus. Plan this day such that these students go back with stories to tell their friends on campus, adding to your brand value as an employer.
These are four strategies to help build your employer brand on campus effectively. However, you must remember that it is a highly digitised world where you must walk the talk. Your leaders participating in events within or outside the campus must reflect the beliefs and culture you have showcased on the campus.
All the points mentioned so far make a strong case why campus recruitment is a different ball game that needs a different approach and a focussed team. Think of campus recruitment as an investment for the future and not a sales and hiring activity. These fresh minds are the harbingers of change in your organisation, bringing new perspectives that can spur innovations. There is no scarcity of opportunities for the talented. The rise of the start-up culture and growth projections of the gig economy in India may prove to be a significant challenge in attracting good talent on board the corporate bandwagon.
What works well in such a scenario is presenting the big picture of being part of an organisation that has a vision and takes its people along to realise it. The students should feel the urge to be a part of your organisation, to learn, contribute, and grow because they believe in your story. They should be able to see their story shaping up, linked to yours. That is the true success of your employer branding on campus.