In a typical semester, students often used in-person employer presentations and career fairs not just as a way to find jobs or internships, but as a way to explore and understand industries and career paths; a RippleMatch survey found that 74% of students previously used in-person events as a career discovery tool. Another RippleMatch survey conducted in wake of COVID-19 found that 68% of students are applying to positions outside their preferred industry. That means as students apply for jobs and explore career paths, it’s important to showcase what your industry has to offer, even in a virtual setting.
If your company is part of a well-known industry, you may think there’s no need to provide details about what it is that your company or industry does. But in many cases, students may have preconceived ideas about your industry which might cause them to hesitate to apply for jobs or attend your events. If your company is in an industry many students have never heard of, you have even more work to do to help them understand the reasons to consider it.
As your team puts together your recruitment marketing this year, consider the following virtual event or content ideas to help students learn about available opportunities in your industry.
Especially if you are targeting specific majors, consider looking for alumni of the school where you are presenting to share their own experiences. Having a relatively recent graduate providing advice to current students offers a great professional development opportunity for that presenter, is a great way to help students visualize where they will be in a few years, and creates a special opportunity to show your engagement with a particular school.
A Day in the Life
Have your speakers think about a typical day on the job. Even better, ask them to think back on the last two or three days, and give a specific example of a day on the job, to avoid generalizations. Avoid industry jargon and acronyms, especially when presenting to students who are not likely to be familiar with your field. Before your event, consider running your presentation past some friends or family members from outside your industry to make sure they can clearly imagine what you do on the job.
An Example Project or Product
Maybe students have heard of your industry’s brands or products, but do they understand what it took to create them? Consider telling the story of a recent client engagement, major project, or product, starting with how the new project was initiated, how it was launched, how it was brought to completion, who worked on which parts of it, and any challenges you faced along the way. Giving examples, especially with video or pictures to illustrate how you got to your goal, helps students better visualize what your industry really does.
Connect the Industry to the Classroom
What skills or abilities do your employees use on the job, especially entry-level hires? What can a current student do to build those skills now when they are in school? What certifications or skills are common in your industry? Again, a recent graduate as a speaker can help bridge the gap between school and work by highlighting their most valuable classes, favorite professors, best school activities, and most relevant work or volunteer experiences, to give students a plan to line them up for success at your firm.
Explain the Range of Career Pathways
Not every person at a tech company is a coder, not everyone at an engineering firm is an engineer, and not everyone at an accounting firm is a CPA. If you are recruiting a diverse range of students and majors, be sure to clearly say so, and take the time during your presentation to go over the different career paths and job functions that you’re recruiting for and the range of occupations within your industry. Be sure to make this a clear part of your event marketing, too, to draw the right candidate pool. Consider creating tailored marketing materials for different majors or target audiences.
The Promotion Process
Where will students be in 5 or 10 years, if they are hired and succeed in your company or industry? More than ever, students are seeking professional development opportunities. If there is a typical career trajectory or promotion pathway in your field, talk through what it takes to successfully navigate it—and what the rewards of doing so would be.
Today’s college students want to know they will be valued, and will fit in, in your organization’s culture. And certain industries come with a particular set of values, too. Considering the essential focus of your industry, what matters most in your culture? How do you build a sense of community in your company or industry? How does your industry value social impact or corporate social responsibility? How hierarchical are companies in the industry, who are the heroes or founders of the field, what is the industry’s history? What images or symbols represent your industry? How are meetings conducted, and who makes decisions? How do people in your industry generally act? Is your industry exclusive, or approachable? Is your focus on process, or product? Is the culture low-key and informal, or strict and disciplined? What is the management philosophy? Is your industry local, regional, or international? How do you value diversity, equity and inclusion? These questions might sound broad, but understanding your industry’s key values will help students understand whether they are a good fit for them.
As students explore career options they may not have considered previously, help them understand why the industry you work in could be a good fit after graduation. Whether you apply these ideas in the form of an info session, a blog post, a small group discussion, or virtual classroom visit, be sure these ideas make their way into your recruitment marketing.