I would like to know if anyone has any experiences in hiring directly from the college campuses. Do you hire as if it was just a junior hire with a slight handicapping of their skills, or do you have special college hire programs.

I want modify my companies strategy to hire more college grads instead of mid to senior staff.



Mark's picture
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I have lots of experience doing this, and helping clients do it, and teaching them how to on-board, and so on.

I've seen special programs, and regular programs. For some companies (my alma mater Procter & Gamble (and the officer corps of the Army, for that matter)), ONLY hire for entry level jobs for college grads.

There are a couple of ways to do it. You can hire and have an initial training program, way beyond just orientation. (These don't work).

You can hire and have a separate development program, where the hires get regular training from HR or some development org or body in the company. A lot of these don't work either, though some do. Many managers (of the new hires) feel like they're doing the heavy lifting, but the program is where all the action is for promotions.

The best way I've seen is just like any other intelligent approach to hiring and talent development: give them real jobs with real accountabilities, and have their managers develop them with real work and regular feedback, in conjunction with some guidance from HR/corporate about stuff they may need outside of their role, and how the manager can help expose them. That said, the KEY is REAL WORK, with risk for failing, and MANAGERS who know they are ON THE HOOK for the hire's performance.

So, you can do what you're planning... as long as managers are ready. That first manager is SO important, if you're not sure they can do it, work on that first.


(This is the second post I've made today that hint at upcoming casts! - H)

gtfenton1's picture
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Mark's advice is extremely sound. As a former manager of campus recruiting for a large private/now public company, my team and I focused on the following:

1. Have to paraphrase Mark here - give them real jobs with real accountabilities. Our college roles required process and system training, and it was something we had to have - it's the college new hire's first job, and he/she need to have the basics. Helps define accountabilites and expectations. Our competion had training programs too...I was always collecting intel on those programs, only so I could find a way to speak with the right context about training in general. Our programs were not manager trainee efforts...

2. Recruiters were held accountable for their college relationships - students, organizations, admissions offices (yes, know everyone! - it can be a four-year "sale"), career development offices, and firm business leaders. It is more than just dinner for these folks or mass marketing is focusing on developing sources and measuring the results (who did I hire? from where? are they good/top performers?).

3. While you can't get too caught up in "cost per hire" (a good measure, but it can't be viewed alone), make sure you know what the cost is. My team's definition meshed costs of replacing someone with revenue numbers from HR and the business. Bring them together the right way, you'll have a "truer" cost than just expenses.

4. Business leaders have to be involved. Have alumni "own" the relationship with the key leaders at the school. Your recruiters play a large role in defining your market, but nothing is more impressive than a strong business leader representing who you are.

5. Tell the truth. You need people. You can also figure out your best sources. ALWAYS take the risk that you have the right talent, versus just talent. Good, bad, and ugly...they'll find out eventually, so don't risk your credibility. If they like it, they tell a couple of frat or soroirty collegaues. If they don't - and they blame it on you/you company - the whole house knows. Not exactly "Animal House" reactions, but you know what I mean.

6. Visit your new hires...Nine years into my tenure in different capacities here, I vist with people I "hired" each quarter.

Hope this helps.


stroker's picture

Since you're thinking of company strategy, consider the scale of your hiring needs as well as the type of positions that you need to fill. In some more complex jobs, even entry level positions might require job experience or technical expertise that a fresh grad might not have yet. Depending on your industry and the type of work you are hiring for, picking the right campuses can be significant as well in acquiring successfl hires, meaning long term retention and results delivered.

regas14's picture
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Having worked for a College and not being too far removed from my own days as a student, I have a couple of suggestions:

1) Build a network faculty members in the fields which apply directly to your business. Particularly in the less academic fields like business, accounting, finance, etc. these people typically have a good idea of what it takes to be successful out in the "real world." Students go to the career services people when they are ready to look for jobs, the faculty has come to know their capabilities and capacities. If you build these relationships, you will get referrals to the top 10% of students year in and year out.

2) To some degree, ignore what students say they want to do. Most 21-22 year-olds don't know enough to determine what type of role they want or what type of company they desire to work for. The good ones just want an opportunity to gain experience, grow and develop.

3) While the MT outline for mentoring places the responsibility on the mentee, don't leave it to that for a new college grad. Assign someone to coach that person along for the first 6 months. They'll need validation and guidance before they have the confidence to seek it themselves.

In my opinion if you do this, you'll get the best of the best, and the on-boarding process will build loyalty and competency quickly.

ctomasi's picture

Nobody has mentioned internships yet. While the hiring process is similar (I sense a cast on hiring coming), we have found summer interns are like contractors with the option to hire. You get to test the capabilities in your own situation.

I agree with aligning your business with the appropriate network of contacts at the appropriate colleges. Our business does that with a couple of the engineering schools and we have found it pays off. I only wish there were a couple of "IT schools" nearby to draw upon.

regas14's picture
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I agree completely. If you can, hire interns. In many cases they have the skills to complete entry level work and the best ones are talented well beyond that. The cost-benifit ratio is incredibly in your favor. If you use college interns for copying, filing and other administrative work you are greatly reducing the ability to benefit your firm.

Because you reiterated the point of networking with local colleges/universities I want to reiterate my opinion of who the right people are. The right people are not the career services people on campus. The right people are the instructors, professors and teaching assistants. They have direct knowledge of the quality of work of students.