Summer is a perfect opportunity to attract college interns who have valuable skills and knowledge your business can use without the salary expectations of a seasoned employee.
Here are some tips from recruitment experts and small business owners on ways you can spread the word about opportunities and attract summer interns and recent college grads.
1. Give them tangible educational value
Today’s college students are expected to be able to demonstrate their worth to potential employers with tangible proof of their skills and the results of their efforts, backed by real-world experience. In tandem, the Gallup poll “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” reveals that millennials (those born between 1980 and 1996) are interested in work that extends beyond a title or bullet point on their resume: The opportunity to learn and develop is one of the most important aspects they consider when accepting (or leaving) a job. This attraction to continuing education and breadth of knowledge is a competitive advantage small business owners can leverage to attract college interns and recent grads, especially when you can’t compensate like a larger employer.
Find out what skills your potential employees want to develop, and how you can support their education in those areas. Pay for your interns and recent grads to complete reputable webinars and online learning courses. You could also and potentially pay for them to attend professional workshops designed to further develop their skills and practical knowledge. For a few hundred dollars (which may also be a tax-deductible business expense), you can provide younger hires tangible knowledge and development opportunities and build a reputation as a small business owner with a commitment to developing young talent. Jordan Wan, founder/CEO of sales recruiting platform CloserIQ says he recently tripled the size of his team by marketing the training and development his company could offer recruits. “In today’s competitive war on talent, not many startups can afford to pay for these,” says Wan.
2. Act as a mentor to your summer interns
As more colleges offer entrepreneurship as a topic of study, small business ownership is the primary goal for many college students, not a dream they hope to aspire to after they’ve spent time in corporate America. Appeal to future entrepreneurs by sharing what you know. Include the fact that you will actively mentor employees and interns in your job descriptions, pay for attendance at networking opportunities, and provide hands-on exposure and interaction with the many functions and tasks running a business entails. The hands-on experience and social connections you can provide a budding entrepreneur early in their career is a valuable benefit worth promoting.
3. Brand your company in the channels your top recruits frequent
“We have found that traditional recruiting methods, such as career fairs and job boards, aren’t as effective in recruiting students and recent graduates,” says Allison Hernandez, managing partner at marketing agency Lotus 823. “Instead, we use social media to offer unique content on skills we look for in candidates, along with content about office culture and employee growth.” Hernandez says her firm also uses local university event calendars to engage college students and staff on social media. For example, they use trending hashtags about college sports and events to post relevant social media content and to identify and interact with online influencers, including college students, professors, and college organizations. “It has been extremely cost-efficient, and we’ve cut down on dollars we would normally spend in advertising on LinkedIn or securing spots at multiple career fairs,” says Hernandez. Perhaps most importantly, she says that the quality of submitted resumes has improved immensely.
4. Promote your culture to current and potential summer interns
Though Gallup’s millennial research reveals that the perceived importance younger workers place on informal dress codes and office perks like video games and pool tables may have been overstated in the media, it does confirm millennials care about an engaging workplace culture. Marissa Letendre of Right Recruit says small business owners can promote their environment with authentic feedback from staff. “Ask employees to create video testimonials about what it is like to work at your business. Create an additional page on your website to feature your culture and office perks along with testimonials and opportunities; it’s low-cost and can really have a high return,” says Letendre. She also recommends inviting employees to share their feedback about your company on popular employer review sites: “Many candidates (especially younger candidates like interns/recent grads) are researching companies on Glassdoor before even applying.”
Stuart McClure, founder and CMO of online deal finding startup Love the Sales says he’s attracted summer interns and recent college grads to his company with flexible workplace hours and perks that make a younger employee’s life a little easier. “Interns have very little money. We always cover their travel and food costs so they can focus purely on their work with a positive mindset without the stress of worrying if they can afford to get to the office,” says McClure.