Campus Recruiting in the Time of COVID

For many of our large customers, campus recruitment makes up an important part of recruitment efforts for junior hires. It’s a great way to find top talent early in their careers and grow development teams. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)’s 2019 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey Report found that 98.9 percent of employers recruit from traditional four-year universities. Employers attended 48 career fairs on average and had planned to continue along the same path in future years. Even more, almost 50 percent of full-time college hires resulted from or included formal on-campus interviews as part of the hiring process.

Between the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift in the economy, 2020-2021 campus hiring is going to look a lot different. If companies are looking to hire new graduates as entry-level engineers or student interns, or build candidate pipelines of engineering students and alumni, they will be forced to do it all remotely - which will be a challenge but also a chance to try new ways to find talent.

Widen the Net with Virtual Career Fairs

Enter virtual career fairs, digital spaces where employers and engineering students can connect, learn more about each other, and sometimes even host screening interviews. Most leverage chat rooms, video conferencing, and even virtual “booths” to help students learn more about available jobs, career opportunities, and benefits of applying to and working at an organization. Employers can set prequalification screeners and job seekers prepare by scheduling 1:1 sessions with employers they are interested in, sending their resumes off digitally ahead of time.

While many companies can benefit from time and cost savings from this method, it will likely put stress on your diversity efforts and screening and interviewing processes. The stress of multiple back to back video interactions could increase your chances of confirmation bias and detract from students who have English as a second language or a more introverted personality. Be sure to pay attention to interviewer feedback and patterns.

But there is opportunity as well. With campus recruiting being moved online, this could be your chance to try new ways to find diverse technical talent. Ensuring your pipeline isn’t just filled with candidates from the elite engineering schools, companies should attend virtual career fairs at historically black (HBCUs), all-women, and community colleagues, as well as coding bootcamps like Hackbright Academy. Our partner, interviewing.io’s research shows that over 40% of hires made on their anonymous platform come from non-traditional backgrounds. Now is the time.

See the Candidates in Action

Finding the right candidate among the ocean of applicants coming from virtual career fairs will also be a challenge – and an opportunity. Resumes showing only academic performance (which Google famously called out as a bad predictor of long-term job performance, though others disagree) limit your ability to screen for role and company fit. Many companies can benefit from the time savings of using take-home coding challenges for university candidates as a precursor to a live technical screen (CoderPad is launching our new version of Take-Home Challenges in the coming weeks). The trick here is to ensure you don’t put too much into automated scores but really take the time to review the candidate’s code. Don’t just focus on their coding skills, but also use the review to assess their process for approaching the problem and their ability to find the solution over time. The rest of the process can anchor less on the candidate’s ability to code and more on their motivations, remote collaboration skills and, importantly, their capacity for working independently without micromanagement.

Get Creative to Find Talent

Additionally, you can always try alternative hiring structures to ensure you find someone who really clicks with your team. Here at CoderPad, for instance, we’re doing paid “trial employee” periods with our new technical hires because performance day to day is what matters most to us. You might do a three-month, intern-to-hire option for recent grads.

Sell Your Company

Ensure you are doing what you can to give your top student candidates a real perspective of what it’s like for junior employees at your company. Remember that your fun office and ping pong tables are no longer selling points; they’re irrelevant, at least for now. They are likely doing their best to adapt to remote learning (and now job hunting). It’s time for you to do the same. Use the time you have via video interview to showcase the value of the work your company is doing, showcase the amazing team candidates would join, and the impact of the role itself. It’s the meaning behind what you do that will matter most to candidates.

For more tips on remote hiring best practices check out this post.