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  • Communication Tips for Engaging Students on Campus

    April 19, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    A student talks to a recruiter.

    TAGS: best practices, nace insights

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    How can recruiters stand out amid the din of a crowded career fair or during an information session to make strong initial connections with students?

    According to Danny Rubin, communication expert and author of the book “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?”, the first few minutes are the key. In their rush to get out information about their organizations during these brief interactions with students, recruiters often forget one key component of effective communication: listening. 

    “If you are asking questions and listening to students, you will gain their respect,” Rubin says. “Show your interest by asking them questions.”

    While the interactions at career fairs do tend to be brief, Rubin recommends listening to the answers a student offers and following up with a relevant question. For example, asking how a student’s day is going might yield a response about the student just coming from a tough exam.

    “The recruiter might then ask about the class or what made the exam so hard,” Rubin says. “Whatever the student is showing she wants to talk about, walk down that path with her. Doing so builds trust and authenticity.”    

    Meanwhile, during an information session when you are speaking to a group of students, making a personal connection might entail “endearing yourself to the room” by talking about a local landmark or restaurant you visited.

    “Talk about your experience being in their world,” he says. “This will help break down any walls, but don’t overdo it. For example, don’t wear a school sweatshirt and hat that you just bought at the campus bookstore. Millennials can sense fake.”

    Once you do make that personal connection and are ready to talk about your organization, don’t “talk in adjectives or be vague about your organization.”

    “You’ll lose the student,” Rubin says. “Important details and specifics will hold their attention.”

    Another effective tactic is telling an interesting story or two—ones to which students can relate—that help to prove your point. Better yet, he says, make the central character relatable by being someone who went through the same experience they would if hired by your organization. For example, during an information session, you might share a story about a new hire who overcame a challenge and is flourishing with the company.

    “At this point, students may still be unsure about your organization,” Rubin says. “Whatever your argument is, have a story to back up your claim. If you’re giving a PowerPoint and telling a story about a new employee, have a photo or video of that person to help the audience make the connection. Students might forget 90 percent of the data and facts you tell them about your company, but if you have one impactful story, they will remember it.”