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  • Selecting Target Schools: Ensuring Your URR Program Is Hitting the Mark

    Candidate Selection
    Three recruiters take a break from their strategy meeting.

    TAGS: best practices, school selection

    To make the most of limited resources, many organizations identify a set of schools on which to concentrate their college recruiting efforts. Although they welcome (and seek) new graduate candidates from across the college/university spectrum, they concentrate their time and resources on a set of schools.

    When identifying your organization’s target schools, it’s important to approach the task strategically and base decisions on a foundation of solid data.

    To do this, work closely with the people who do headcount planning. This will help you determine the number and kinds of openings your organization will have, the type of employees your organization wants, the diversity needs of your organization, and your budget for college recruiting. 

    It’s also important to:

    • Make decisions based on how the school will meet the company’s needsMatch your organization’s needs with what the school provides. Don’t target a school because key executives attended, because they have always recruited there, or for another reason that isn’t strictly based on sound data and good organization-school fit. 
    • Find your optimum numberConsider where to concentrate your limited resources and identify the schools that are going to work best for your organization. Remember that you can and should develop a virtual recruiting strategy to attract qualified candidates regardless of which school they attend.
    • Periodically reevaluate and update your list of target schools—This will help you to confirm your commitment to the colleges and universities with which you already work, to add schools that could provide greater returns on your recruiting investment, and to drop others that aren’t a good fit, don’t meet your needs, or no longer provide an ample return on your investment in them.

    While there is no concrete formula for determining target schools, each school should be rated by a combination of several factors that are important to your organization. Among these are:

    • Curriculum—Is the school accredited? Is the curriculum relevant to the needs of your organization?
    • Location—Will the distance to campus justify the time and money it takes to recruit there? Will the distance create relocation and retention issues?
    • Demographics—Does the overall enrollment and percentages of diverse candidates meet the company’s recruiting needs?
    • Graduation datesWhen will candidates be available for work?
    • Career services/faculty/student organizations—Are the services the company needs available through the career center? Is the faculty accessible and interested in career opportunities for their students? Can the company collaborate with the school’s student organizations?
    • Competitive environmentAre the student’s expectations, for instance about salary, in line with what the organization can offer?
    • Potential recruiters/team leaders—Does the company have enough alumni to create a recruiting team?
    • Internal opinion of the school—What is the general opinion of the school within the company? Would the school be accepted as part of the college recruiting program?

    Companies use different combinations of these factors to identify their target schools. Some employers then create a tiered system of the support they offer to their target schools. A sample tiered system is:

    • Tier 1:  
      • Campus interviews
      • Career fairs
      • Job postings and direct e-mail campaign
      • On-campus information sessions to student groups
      • In-person faculty relationship building 
    • Tier 2: 
      • Career fairs
      • Job postings—online job boards and career center
      • Direct e-mail campaign—e-postcards
      • Resume books and databases
      • Student group, faculty lists 
    • Tier 3: 
      • Job postings—online job boards and career center
      • Direct e-mail campaign
      • Resume books and databases
      • Student group, faculty lists 

    The goal of target school selection is identifying the schools where all parties—your organization, the school, and its students—benefit from a robust relationship. Approach the selection process strategically, assess results, and make adjustments to ensure you are getting the best return on your target school selection efforts.