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A comprehensive guide to campus recruitment

Recruitment | 10 Min Read

A comprehensive guide to campus recruitment


Campus recruiting has always been a great way for organizations to find skilled candidates for entry-level positions.

According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 87% of the entry-level positions in organizations across various industries are filled through campus recruitment programs.

As more and more organizations are turning towards on-campus recruiting, employers need to improve their strategies to attract top talent and stand out from the competition.




What is campus recruiting?

Campus recruiting is a popular talent acquisition strategy that targets college students and fresh graduates. The strategy is primarily used to hire candidates for internship programs and entry-level positions, and the process involves attracting, engaging, and hiring fresh talent from colleges and universities.

Campus recruiting strategies are beneficial for students, universities, and organizations. While organizations get access to skilled candidates for entry-level or internship positions, students can land a stellar job right after college, and the universities get word-of-mouth publicity for having a successful, personalized placement drive in place.

Students who are selected receive their offer letters for the job role, but they are only added to the organization’s roster once they have graduated from their course. College students represent an invaluable talent pool of job-ready, knowledgeable, and eager candidates that recruiters can tap to meet instant staffing requirements and build an optimized talent pipeline for the future.

While placement drives and career fairs are crucial aspects of an organization’s campus recruiting strategy, the approach should also cover other related activities, like student group networking, delivering informative sessions at universities, alumni referral programs, integrating screening and assessment strategies, and online outreach.


Types of campus recruitment

On-campus recruiting

On-campus, or in-person, recruiting is where organizations visit colleges and universities and participate in their placement events. Open job roles are enlisted and promoted at these events and students who are interested can apply. After having received the applications, recruiters screen candidates based on their skills and the required criteria for the job role. This method is valuable for companies to find fresh talent and helps them improve brand awareness.


Pooled campus recruiting

This method is when an organization visits a city that has several colleges and selects one of the colleges as the host. The pooled campus recruitment drive is promoted with the other colleges in the city, inviting their students to participate in the pooled drive. This method provides organizations with access to skilled candidates and also helps them save the effort and costs of having to visit all the colleges one at a time.


Off-campus walk-in drives

If the organization already has a strong position in the market, it can consider conducting walk-in drives for college students. This method requires efficient marketing, where recruiters first analyze requirements and update the job openings on the organization’s career page. The jobs then must be promoted via social platforms, mail, or text to ensure reach for sourcing candidates. This helps recruiters get job applications from fresh talent without the involvement of the campus.


Virtual hiring

This campus hiring methodology does not involve any face-to-face contact with the candidate. Typically, organizations also integrate virtual screening processes, which may also involve video interviews, skills assessments, virtual interviews, etc. Recruiters can administer various kinds of online assessment tests to screen candidates. These may include psychometric tests, skills-based tests, cognitive ability tests, domain tests, coding tests, aptitude tests, and personality tests.


Hybrid hiring

Depending on the requirements, budget, goals, etc., of the organization, recruiters can also consider hybrid campus hiring strategies, which can consist of a blend of on-campus recruitment, pooled campus recruitment, walk-in drives, and virtual hiring strategies.


Who are the stakeholders in campus recruiting?


Organizations use campus recruiting as a strategic approach to identify and hire motivated and skilled candidates. They offer job opportunities, accept applications, screen candidates, evaluate their skills, and conduct interviews, so they can identify candidates with the skills and aptitude required for the position and who will also be a suitable cultural fit.

Colleges and universities

Educational institutions, like colleges, universities, and schools, are important stakeholders in campus recruitment. They help their students prepare for placement by offering them resume-making workshops, career counseling, and mock interviews. They also facilitate interactions between organizations and students by organizing placement drives, job fairs, and other events.


Students may be called the primary beneficiaries of the campus recruitment process. They are active participants in the process as they explore career opportunities by attending interviews, presentations, and job fairs. Students put in job applications, submit their resumes, take assessments, give interviews, showcase their skills, and secure job offers.



Three reasons to pay attention to campus recruiting

1. Tap a pool of fresh innovation

A shortage of innovative approaches and creative ideas in the organization can be solved by bringing in fresh talent from colleges and universities. Students interact constantly with the internet, which means that they can also be expected to be aware of all the latest trends in their field. Knowledge of the latest trends in the hands of a skilled candidate can translate into novel solutions and new innovations for the organization. Campus recruiting offers access to skilled candidates who can also be a new source of innovation.


2. Workplaces are going digital

The digital revolution started years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed digital transformation into overdrive. A majority of business activities across industries have shifted online and organizations need talent that can easily navigate virtual space. With almost all millennials already having joined the workforce, recruiters are turning their attention towards Gen-Z, most of whom are still in college or about to graduate and who are also believed to be even more adept in using technology than the previous generation.


3. Cost-effectiveness

Compared to several other hiring channels that organizations turn to, campus recruiting is much more cost-effective. As organizations can connect with a huge number of prospective candidates during placement drives, campus recruiting can help reduce or even eliminate the need for extensive advertising efforts for recruitment. Internship programs are a great way for organizations to attract and retain talent and build talent pipelines. Enrolling prospective candidates in internship programs is also a great way to assess the candidates’ skills and ability to work. It can support informed decision-making about hiring candidates and even in part reduce the stress of finding top talent in the competitive job market.


Campus recruitment trends

On-campus recruiting is not a new concept, but over the years, it has changed considerably. In the beginning, campus recruiting involved organizations visiting college career fairs to attract prospective hires. Today, however, it is not enough for organizations to set up a stall in a college or university during placement season, as recruiters must have structured strategies in place to optimize their campus recruiting and to be able to attract and engage top talent.


Trends to look out for


Infographic 1


  • Virtual recruitment

The advancements in technologies and the increasing digital transformations across industries have changed the ways in which organizations connect with prospective candidates, and virtual ways to hire in campus recruitment have gained a lot of prominence. Using video conferencing tools, virtual career fairs, online assessments, and remote interviews have become a norm in talent acquisition.

  • Diversity and inclusion

It is essential for organizational success to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. Organizations can ensure the same by actively recruiting candidates from various colleges and backgrounds. Recruitment practices also need to evolve to remove biases from screening processes.

  • Skill-based hiring

Academic achievements and qualifications are no longer a priority for recruiters as organizations are now emphasizing the candidates’ practical skills and aptitude. While technical skills have always been a requirement, soft skills and cognitive abilities are also becoming prominent requirements for ensuring that hired candidates are not only efficient at their job, but that they are also an effective cultural fit for the organization.

  • Data-driven hiring decisions

Organizations can use AI and data analytics to optimize their campus recruiting strategies. Recruiters can use predictive analysis to assess the potential of candidates for succeeding in specific job roles. They can also assess candidate success rates from different educational institutes and use the results to refine their campus recruiting strategy accordingly.

  • Campus recruiting technology

Most organizations have already broken away from traditional campus hiring processes for holistic virtual hiring. There are several recruiting tools and solutions that can be integrated into campus hiring strategies to streamline them. Recruiting technology can cover all steps of the campus hiring process, from engaging students and screening them to managing candidates and performing skill assessments.


The responsibilities of a campus recruiter


A campus recruiter is required to attract, assess, and hire college students and graduates for entry-level positions in the organization. The role of a campus recruiter revolves around building a steady talent pipeline of qualified candidates for the organization.

  • Building relationships with educational institutes

Campus recruiters are responsible for building and nurturing relationships with colleges and universities. They are also required to collaborate with the faculty and the career services offices of institutes to understand the environment of the college or university and to get access to potential candidates.

  • Organizing and managing campus recruitment drives

Campus recruiters are also responsible for organizing workshops, information sessions, career fairs, and other events to engage with students and promote the organization’s employer brand.

  • Branding and becoming the employer of choice

An organization should seem like a desirable and attractive place to work for potential candidates. That is why the job role of the campus recruiter also includes promoting the organization as an employer. They are required to develop strategies that can help them highlight the culture, values, and career opportunities at the organization.

  • Identifying talent

One of the prime responsibilities of the campus recruiter is to actively search for and identify top talent by utilizing various recruitment channels to connect with potential candidates, like attending networking events, reviewing resumes, and conducting on-campus interviews.

  • Interviewing and selection

Campus recruiters are required to coordinate with college hiring managers and ensure that there is an alignment between the needs of the organization and candidate profiles. They are also required to conduct interviews, evaluate the skills and qualifications of candidates, and assess if they will be a suitable cultural fit for the organization.

  • Organizing internship programs

Campus recruiters also organize and manage internship programs, from the recruitment and onboarding of interns to evaluation for identifying high-performing interns who can be offered full-time employment opportunities.

  • Managing administrative tasks

Campus recruiters are also responsible for handling campus recruitment-related administrative tasks, like managing candidate databases, coordinating logistics for campus events, scheduling interviews, etc.

  • Collaborating with internal stakeholders

Campus recruiters must work closely with hiring managers and stakeholders in the organization to understand their needs and preferences for campus recruiting. They are also supposed to deliver regular feedback and updates about how the campus recruiting program is progressing.

  • Reporting and data analysis

Campus recruiters must generate reports to assess the success of their present campus recruiting strategies, so data-driven improvements can be made. For this, the campus recruiter must track and analyze key metrics related to campus recruitment, such as conversion rates, candidate demographics, and average time-to-fill.




Campus recruiting team: Standard structure

  • The campus recruiter

This is the titular role in any campus recruiting team and refers to the people who are in direct contact with the candidates. A campus recruiter must possess a range of skills to identify high-potential candidates and attract and engage college students. These people are responsible for conveying the values of the organization, building connections, and attracting the right talent.

  • Campus recruiting director

The campus recruiting director, also known as the talent acquisition director, is the leader of the recruiting team, and their list of responsibilities generally covers identifying the talent that is required by working with other departments in the organization, coming up with the overall campus recruiting strategy, managing the campus recruiting team, and at times, reaching out to maintain relationships with relevant universities.

  • Recruiting operations manager

A recruitment operations manager is responsible for handling the logistics part of the campus recruiting program. They take charge of tasks like interview scheduling, arranging transportation for the campus recruitment team, processing the applications of candidates selected, and so on. Recruiting operations managers can help reduce the team’s time-to-hire, optimize resource consumption, and overall costs involved.

  • Recruiting marketers

Before any organization can begin recruiting young talent, candidates must be made aware that the organization is hiring at the moment. This is the job that falls into the purview of a campus recruiting marketer. Recruiting marketers are responsible for the creation of both online and offline branding materials, like banners, standees and blog posts, for communicating why the organization is the right place to work. It is also quite common for members of a campus recruiting team to multitask in different positions.

  • The one-man recruiting team

For companies that are not required to fill too many positions through campus recruiting, all responsibilities are handed over to one or two individuals.


    • Working with other departments within the organization to identify recruitment needs.
    • Helping design internship programs for short-term or entry-level positions in the organization.
    • Building the overall calendar and strategy for campus recruiting.
    • Building and managing positive relationships with colleges and universities and their career services offices.
    • Designing advertisements and arranging to have them put up on the campus grounds.
    • Providing informative material, like case studies, pamphlets, and job descriptions for open positions, to the career services staff of colleges and universities.
    • Reaching out online and offline to alumni groups to create a word-of-mouth effect.
    • Attending career fairs to interact with students and to attract them to the organization as a workplace. These recruiters are often the first point of contact with organizations for students, and many candidates will ask questions and submit resumes. The recruiter must be able to identify top candidates and get them interested in working for the organization.
    • Posting and managing open job roles on social media.
    • Reporting back results and progress after any campus recruiting campaign or career event. This also helps improve strategies, after seeing what works and what does not.


How do companies engage in campus recruitment?

1. Establishing relationships with relevant academic institutions

Organizations first build connections with the career services offices, faculty, and other departments of relevant colleges and universities. They also attend industry events, career fairs, and networking sessions that are hosted by academic institutions.


2. Building employer branding 

Next comes showcasing the culture, values, and career opportunities at the organization. This can be done through various channels, like the company website, social media platforms, and promotional materials. It is also important for the organization to engage with the students through various online platforms and branding initiatives.


3. Attending campus events 

Sponsoring and attending career fairs, workshops, information sessions, and other campus events is a must for organizations. Ideally, they should set up attractive booths or virtual spaces for interacting with and engaging students and distributing promotional materials.


4. Utilizing online platforms 

Organizations can leverage the reach of general job search platforms and university-specific online platforms and job boards to reach a broader pool of candidates. They can consider engaging with students through professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn.


5. Conducting on-campus interviews

On-campus interviews can be scheduled to assess the skills, qualifications, and cultural fit of candidates. Organizations can work with the career services offices of colleges and universities to facilitate the logistics of these interviews, so they can ensure a seamless experience for all candidates.


6. Using company presentations

Organizations can conduct engaging and informative presentations about the company at various colleges and universities. The presentations can showcase the values of the organization and the opportunities that are available. Such initiatives offer students the chance to interact with the employees of the organization or alumni, who can share their experiences with them.


7. Offering internships

Developing and promoting internship programs that offer students a chance to gain hands-on experience is not only one of the most popular campus recruiting strategies, but it can also help organizations build talent pipelines for potential full-time hires.


8. Collaborating with campus ambassadors 

Campus ambassadors refer to students selected by an organization to represent the company on campus. Recruiting and working closely with campus ambassadors can help organizations strengthen their employer branding.




Advantages of campus recruitment

Infographic 2


  • Ensuring brand promotion

Organizations visiting colleges and universities for campus recruiting drives interact with a huge number of students and how they conduct themselves during the drive has an impact on the organization’s employer brand. Valuable experiences can help build a positive brand image among students.

  • Building a diverse talent pipeline

Organizations build relationships with colleges and universities and their students. This means that organizations with a strong brand image tend to receive numerous internship applications from students. These internships allow students to get training and pre-employment experiences, while organizations get a vast pool of applicants with diverse talents, from which they can choose and build a strong talent pipeline to meet present and future hiring needs.

  • Reducing cost and time spent on hiring

On-campus recruiting is a hiring approach that offers higher recruitment rates as compared to other methods of recruitment, which makes the approach highly cost-effective and allows recruiters to tap into a huge pool of skilled candidates. Additionally, shortlisting candidates from colleges and universities only requires organizations to spend a few days at institutions. This helps organizations save a lot of effort that would otherwise go into advertising job openings, sourcing candidates, screening applicants, etc.

  • Accessing candidates with the latest skills

The latest generations are more fluent with technology and more aware of the latest technological advances. Consequently, the new generation of employees can also be expected to be more skilled and efficient. Grooming this potential talent as per the needs of an organization can help eliminate the high costs that are generally associated with searching for new hires. With campus recruiting, organizations will be able to develop the right talent and promote them to high-responsibility job roles, which will improve retention rates in the long run.

  • Using the loyalty factor

Campus recruiting allows organizations to hire fresh talent, coming directly from their college life to work at their first company. It has been observed that young talent tends to be attached emotionally to their first job and holds their employers in high regard, enhancing workplace efficiency.


Disadvantages of campus recruitment

Infographic 3


  • Cost to hire

Campus recruiting makes sense for organizations looking to hire at the mass level. However, for smaller organizations that only want to hire a few candidates, campus recruiting may cost more, as it includes expenses for logistics, advertising, marketing, etc.

  • Time to fill

Campus recruiting is the fastest way to find a large number of suitable candidates to fill entry-level positions in an organization. However, it requires recruiters to build a strong employer brand and engage with candidates first. So, for organizations looking for an immediate hire, campus recruiting may not be the right option.

  • Declining acceptance rates

There are a myriad of reasons for declining acceptance rates. Some candidates may be planning to go for further studies after graduating, while others may want to try their hand in diverse fields, like consulting, freelancing, vlogging, etc. As a result, many organizations experience a decline in the acceptance rate after students have received offers from them.




Common mistakes in campus recruiting

Not having a proper campus recruiting strategy

A lack of strategy is one of the most obvious mistakes that organizations can make. While the cost of campus recruiting may act as a deterrent for small- and medium-sized companies, especially with larger companies being their competitors, it does not have to be so.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, identifying fresh talent, branding at campuses, and prioritizing diversity are the most important factors for employers in campus recruiting.

A campus recruiting strategy should begin with identifying relevant academic institutions and reaching out to build relationships. The strategy can then be modified based on the organization’s needs, budget, etc.


Only relying on resumes

Resumes are crucial for finding suitable talent, but they cannot be relied on exclusively during campus recruiting drives, as these young professionals lack professional experience. Organizations should be able to assess other competencies, like their personality, aptitude, motivations, learning aptitude, etc. Online skills assessment tests can prove to be highly beneficial here.


Not assessing soft skills

Impressive resumes and high GPAs do not always mean that a candidate will be a suitable choice for the organization or even for the job role. Soft skills, like leadership tendency, adaptiveness, willingness to learn, etc., are crucial competencies to look for. To make the most out of the available talent pool, assessments, micro-internships, or short projects, recruiters should gain a holistic understanding of candidates’ skills.


Ignoring digital aspects

With social media platforms being immensely popular across the world, the digital presence of organizations has become very important. Social media can be utilized as a channel for companies to build their brand and reach out to college graduates through digital means. Virtual fairs and hybrid campus recruiting strategies can help organizations with limited resources.


Campus recruiting best practices

Personalized interactions

College students and fresh graduates prefer authentic and personalized interactions as compared to automated, one-size-fits-all exchanges. Sharing industry information or job requirements that resonate with the candidate’s indicated interests, updating them about the status of their interview, etc., are some simple steps organizations can take to personalize their campus recruiting processes.


Talent communities through social media

With fresh talent being hyper-connected, it is not uncommon for like-minded individuals to create talent communities on social media platforms, like X (erstwhile Twitter) or LinkedIn, as well. Organizations should always consider these channels and websites when looking to connect with young talent.


Virtual career fairs and interviews

After having spent quite a while building and nurturing virtual connections, it can be said that virtual events, like interviews, career fairs, etc., are not just a niche in recruitment. Virtual hiring solutions offer a number of benefits, help save time and costs, and allow recruiters to get over geographical barriers with ease.


Creative social posting

To attract fresh talent, standard job posts may not be enough. In order to catch attention and stand out from the digital crowd, recruiters must consider making their social posts more vibrant. Instead of a text-heavy post, recruiters can use infographics and other visual elements to convey information about the organization in a more interesting way. However, it is important to maintain design consistency across all communication.


Being active on social media

To find potential candidates, recruiters must understand that there are several more websites where talented individuals may come together. This may include niche job sites, Reddit groups, and even Instagram. Each website has its own type of content and audience base, and organizations can decide the kind of content and candidates they wish to pursue.


Cognitive aptitude and skills tests

Online assessment tests to measure the skills and aptitudes of candidates are essential for filtering out applications received through campus recruiting programs. Fresh talent generally does not have professional experience and cannot be assessed based on credentials. So, to avoid missing out on top talent, integrating aptitude and skills assessments into the recruitment procedure is a must.




Building an effective campus recruitment strategy

  • Define hiring needs

Consider the campus recruiting budget, which and how many roles need to be filled, future development goals of the organization, types of candidates needed, skills and qualifications required, and which academic institutions to connect with to meet these needs.

  • Connect with colleges and universities

Most colleges and universities have career services offices that facilitate employment opportunities for students and graduates. Organizations should connect with these offices and build a relationship with them. The career services office will be able to inform organizations about upcoming campus career fairs and events and if there are any eligibility criteria or requirements for attending them. These offices can also facilitate student interactions, provide collaboration opportunities, and help coordinate scheduling.

  • Approach the faculty

Teachers and professors are among the people who have the best understanding of their students’ potential. Establishing relationships with educators allows getting advice about the candidates and helps gauge their suitability for specific job roles.

  • Go beyond resumes

Usually, resumes are vital for understanding candidates’ academic background, skills, and experience, but they do not provide the whole picture. A great benefit of campus recruiting is that recruiters can meet candidates in person, which can be crucial for gaining a holistic understanding.

  • Go online

The latest generation is starting to enter the workforce, and this is a generation of digital natives. This means that Gen Z is more likely to go online for most things, including for their career. It is important for brands to meet this generation where they are. Organizations can build a social media presence and use digital media channels for career outreach, job postings, informing students, etc. They can also build online portals for jobs and direct students from in-person career fairs to these portals.

  • Stay in touch

Even if campus recruiting is in its off-season, it is important to touch base and stay in contact with the students at the college or university. Share compelling content, industry news, information about the company, organizational updates, etc., regularly.

  • Automate

Utilize campus recruiting software and online assessments to streamline the campus recruiting process so recruiters have more time for personal and creative responsibilities.


Campus hiring vs virtual hiring: Which model is suitable for an organization?

Whether to opt for traditional campus recruiting strategies, virtual recruitment methodologies, or a blend of both depends solely on the organization’s requirements and budget. Both models of campus recruiting have their own sets of advantages and drawbacks. For organizations that want to build a pipeline of fresh talent that can also infuse new ideas, innovations, and energy into the workplace, campus recruiting may be the way to go. Campus recruiting drives are also suitable for organizations that want to build their employer brand and build relationships with colleges and universities.

Alternatively, if an organization wants to save time and resources and reach a larger pool of candidates, it may want to consider virtual hiring. Virtual hiring is also the right option for organizations that are looking for immediate hiring and are interested in attracting top talent regardless of geographical boundaries.




How Mercer | Mettl can help

Campus recruiting can involve multiple complex processes, which can be simplified using campus recruiting software. Mercer | Mettl simplifies campus recruiting, enabling organizations to replicate every step of their traditional campus recruitment drives online. The entire recruitment process is optimized, from pre-employment engagement and campus selections to case study competitions and hackathons and online skills and aptitude assessments and interviews.


Benefits of using Mercer | Mettl solution for campus hiring 

Connecting with educational institutions

Mercer | Mettl offers customizable campus intelligence and management reports, which organizations can easily use to shortlist academic institutions and select the skills and competencies that they are looking for in candidates. The campus recruiting platform can easily assist organizations in meeting a range of preferences, like region, gender, and diversity. The platform can also be integrated seamlessly with existing applicant tracking systems and human resource management systems that an organization may have in place, and it can help widen the reach of the organizations to cover tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well.

Candidate assessments

Organizations can evaluate candidates virtually through holistic online assessments of their communication skills, technical skills, coding skills, personality traits, and aptitude. Screening can be performed using advanced assessment tools to establish unbiased, data-driven campus recruiting processes. The best part is that assessments can be administered with AI-powered remote proctoring to ensure the credibility of the results.

Identifying skilled students

Mercer | Mettl also helps in identifying and hiring the right talent with features like virtual interviews, pair programming interviews, etc. Organizations can utilize a virtual environment where employers can meet potential candidates and assess their skills objectively. Organizations are also provided with in-depth automated reports to support informed decision-making.

Engaging students

A range of virtual engagement tools, like contests, hackathons, ideathons, ice-breaker sessions, etc., help conduct collaborative and interactive activities that help students get a better understanding of the work culture and values of the organization.



College and university students represent a pool of fresh talent that is sought after by every organization, which makes campus recruiting a crucial part of hiring strategies. However, to stand out and ensure successful campus recruiting programs, organizations need to get creative and innovative with their strategies. They need to go beyond traditional approaches and utilize modern tools to attract and engage fresh talent.



1. What is the campus hiring process?

2. How to conduct campus recruitment?

3. How to engage campus hires?

4. What is the objective of campus hiring?

Originally published April 14 2024, Updated April 14 2024

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

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