How College Recruiting Can Fuel Diversity Hiring

June 20, 2016 at 11:00 AM by William Clarke


The business case for diversity is as clear cut as it gets: Diverse teams perform better. But building a diverse team is often easier said than done.

In reality, it’s a challenge many companies face, especially when hiring teams often find themselves going after the same handful of experienced people trying to improve their diversity. There’s nothing wrong with hiring experienced individuals from diverse backgrounds, in fact, it’s commendable. But it’s also hard to scale since it’s focused on an inherently finite talent pool.One of the best ways to instill diversity at your company is to start from the ground up with your entry level hires. That’s where college recruiting comes into play. College recruiting is a surefire way to engage skilled, highly motivated talent from diverse communities. Here’s how to get started.

Strategically Engage Students

Relative to other institutions, colleges are hotbeds of diversity. More than half of all college students are women, and the rates of black, Asian, Latino students continue to rise, which makes colleges one of the best places to find diverse talent. Of course, diversity doesn’t just refer to gender, race, and ethnicity. It also means an inclusive approach to different perspectives, cultures and life experiences, which is why hiring veterans, LGBTQ, the disabled, and people of varying religious and even political beliefs are absolutely imperative.

So where do you start? Try student organizations. College campuses are packed to the gills with student organizations, and not just sororities and fraternities. (At the University of California at Berkeley, for instance, there are over 1,000 registered student organizations!) Quite simply, there is no more straightforward way to connect with diverse talent pools than to reach out to student groups representing diverse communities – a mix of hobbies, interests, majors, and demographics.

The simplest way to make contact is a quick email to the group’s president or board, explaining who you are, what your organization does, and your available opportunities. Your message should show your value to the organization and their members right off the bat without asking much of them in return. In that regard, it’s not unlike your initial email to a candidate.

Remember, many of these organizations are first and foremost social organs, so a light touch is always a good idea until they outwardly show interest.

Make Diversity Your Employer Brand

Your org’s messaging, branding, and collateral should emphasize your ongoing commitment to nurturing a diverse workforce.

Drill down and talk about why diversity intrinsically matters to you and your organization. Explain the steps you’ve taken to address matters of diversity, and what your plans for the future are.

College students and recent graduates are joining one of the strongest job markets in years, which means they have more career choices than ever. The more you stand out, the more likely they’ll want to join your company.

How an organization represents itself is a huge part of recruiting, especially on college campuses where students will often have little exposure to you or your industry. 

Your org’s employer brand tells the company story,expresses the values your team highly regards, and what it looks for in employees. Many young workers want to work at companies that share their values and passions. That’s why the values you espouse matter.

But don’t stop there.

Your website, career page and social media pages are essential pieces of the employer brand puzzle. If you’re embarking on a campus recruiting tour, create a web page specifically for recent and upcoming graduates that emphasize your commitment to professional development, diversity, your company’s mission and values, and a peek into their potential coworkers and projects.

By showcasing the impact of the team’s work and the people at the company, you put human faces at the forefront of your org. When you’re building a diverse team, the people on that forefront matter.

Find Top Student Talent Early and Hold On To Them

Internships are an incredible way to simultaneously meet and train young talent. They also give your organization valuable exposure on campuses and help build relationships with student  groups and universities.  

Not only can great interns become great employees, but also become they become evangelists and brand ambassadors for your org on campuses both during and after their internships.

An added benefit is that the most diverse hires and interns you make will power a hiring flywheel effect through word of mouth, social media, and referral programs that will bring in more diverse talent.

Even better, as diverse hires progress up within the company, that sends a powerful message that your organization is a place where people from diverse backgrounds can thrive, which in turn drives increased innovation by creating an environment amenable to new ideas and outside the box thinking.

How is your company working to drive its diversity initiative? Tell us in the comments!

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