Kate Beckman
Kate Beckman
Kate Beckman is the Content Manager at RippleMatch.
January 02, 2019
5 minute read

The Top 4 University Recruiting Trends To Know In 2019

The recruiting trends every talent acquisition professional should know.

The Top 4 University Recruiting Trends To Know In 2019

Read our article on 'University Recruitment Trends to Watch in 2020' here.

A new year brings new goals and a chance to implement new strategies. As a platform for early-career and university recruiting, RippleMatch has a pulse on the best practices in university recruiting that emerge year over year. By observing external trends and analyzing data collected in the 2018 hiring cycle from the candidates and recruiters on our platform, we have identified four trends in the university recruiting space that are here to stay. From the importance of professional development programs to an emphasis on inclusive cultures, here’s what you need to know to give your 2019 talent acquisition strategy a competitive edge.

Professional development programs are a powerful factor in recruiting Gen Z talent.

One of the top insights we gathered in the 2018 cycle is the importance of professional development to entry-level candidates. It turns out that the most powerful thing you can offer to Gen Z candidates isn’t a high salary or a prestigious title, but the opportunity to learn and grow with your company.

Our candidate sign up flow asks students to rank the importance of workplace factors such as professional development, upward mobility, community and work/life balance from “Not at all Important” in a job to “Extremely Important” in a job. Across all options, professional development came out on top by a sizable margin.

An additional benchmark survey of 2018 college graduates revealed the importance of professional development to early-career job seekers. We asked respondents, “What were the most important factors that led you to accept your job?” and gave them the option to select as many provided factors as applied to them. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said “Professional Development” influenced their decision to accept a job offer.

External data supports the significance of professional development as well. A survey conducted by Ernst and Young on over 1,600 Gen Z interns found that potential for career progression and growth is the most important factor to Gen Z when searching for a job. And a recent report from LinkedIn declared that learning opportunities are an important tool for recruiting Gen Z talent.

In 2019, market your company’s professional development initiatives to prospective employees. Generation Z is hungry to learn – make sure they know your company offers the opportunities that will allow them to grow.

Assessments are no longer only for technical candidates.

It’s standard to require that candidates go through a skills assessment for technical roles, but the success of companies like Pymetrics and the launch of Indeed Assessments is indicative of a larger trend in the recruiting industry, not just tech. The days of using a resume to gauge a candidate’s potential for success in a role are waning. Instead of looking for keywords or judging applicants on the prestige of their alma mater, more and more companies will evaluate candidates on their skills before extending an offer.

Assessing candidates on their skills is especially important when working with entry-level candidates who don’t have a robust professional track record – and you don’t have to sacrifice candidate experience to incorporate an assessment into your hiring process. Instead of evaluating candidates solely on their resumes and interview performance, add a timed writing challenge or assign candidates a problem that can showcase their critical thinking skills after you complete an initial screening interview to keep a personal touch. Assessing if a candidate has the skills to do a job before setting up a final interview can ensure that both you and the candidate are using your time effectively.

Academic pedigree is no longer the dominating factor in determining a candidate’s potential for success.

An Ivy League background and a 4.0 is no longer the gold standard in assessing a candidate’s potential for success. It’s been five years since Google announced that they would consider prior experience, problem-solving skills, and learning ability as indicators of a strong candidate rather than school prestige and GPA. Now, recruiters in all industries are adopting this approach, with some recruiting experts even recommending bachelor’s degrees be removed from job requirements altogether.

Data from our platform reveals that the university recruiters that used RippleMatch in 2018 are a part of this growing trend, valuing the internship experiences of entry-level candidates slightly more than major, GPA, and school prestige. The insight comes from data collected through our matching process, which asks university recruiters to weigh the importance of factors like GPA, major, previous internships, campus clubs, and school prestige so our technology can match their job opportunities with the best candidates.

GPA, major and university are still relevant factors when assessing a candidate. However, a move toward holistic evaluation surfaces the best candidates for the job, not only those who thrive in an academic setting.

Intersectional diversity and inclusive cultures are increasingly important.

Most companies have embraced some kind of diversity recruiting strategy – the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that in 2017, 80 percent of employers surveyed had a diversity-focused recruiting initiative. Now, companies are expanding their definition of diversity beyond race and gender, embracing intersectional diversity and actively recruiting for candidates in the LGBTQ community, candidates from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, veterans, and candidates with disabilities.

Executive search firm Korn Ferry predicts that companies will dig even deeper into diversity recruiting in 2019, utilizing applicant tracking systems and sourcing technologies to ensure a pipeline with intersectional diversity. This hits close to home for RippleMatch, as many of our clients utilize our automated sourcing tools and pipeline demographic tracking to effectively drive their diversity recruiting efforts. In the past year, we have seen an increased focus on recruiting for intersectional diversity.

Taking intersectional diversity beyond the recruiting process, employers are beginning to realize that to retain their new hires, company cultures need to be inclusive of all identities. Equal representation will be impossible to achieve with high employee turnover resulting from a-less-than-great culture. Data collected through our survey of college graduates earlier in 2018 reveals just how important company culture is to underrepresented minority (URM) candidates when accepting a job offer. Seventy-two percent of URMs said that a company’s culture influenced their decision to accept a job offer and outweighed both upward mobility and salary in the decision-making process.

This insight leads to another question: what makes for a good company culture, particularly from the perspective of entry-level URM candidates?

Our data shows that the presence of a tangibly strong community, work-life balance, and the presence of diversity & inclusion initiatives reflects a good company culture. Thirteen percent of URM candidates reported turning down a job offer in part because the company lacked diverse teams, and nearly 30 percent of URM respondents said a company’s D&I efforts influenced their decision to accept a job offer. The prevalence of company culture as a recruiting and retention tool makes inclusivity an important focus in 2019.

From the importance of assessments to intersectional diversity, these four trends should be top of mind for any 2019 recruitment strategy.  Interested in how RippleMatch can enhance your approach to early-career talent acquisition? Get in touch with our team here to learn more.

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