The Great Renege: Campus recruiting tips to keep graduates engaged when hiring

January 23rd, 2023
Alex Spaven, Solution Architect
Recruiting Teams,
Tips & Tricks

It’s been an eventful couple of years for campus recruiters and candidates alike. As we emerged from the pandemic students were ready to prioritise their social lives, and for many, job applications slipped down their to-do list. But this year things are returning to the way they were, with more of a focus back on career advancement. 

For recruiters, the 2022/23 campus recruitment season is off to a busy start, with many organisations returning to in-person campus events – literally a breath of fresh air for those recruiters running outdoor installations.

Campus recruitment remains buoyant, and 2023 is sure to include more record-breaking vacancy numbers, particularly with hiring volumes across graduate and school leaver roles. But with offers being made months ahead of start dates, keeping candidates engaged and excited is critical. These are some of the most effective ways to keep your candidates engaged leading up to their start date.  

The Great Renege

Larger hiring targets have presented a challenge for many firms – UK employers reported increased numbers of unfilled vacancies (9% in 2022, up from 3% in 2020)1, and an increase in graduates and school and college leavers reneging on offer acceptances (12% in 2022, up +7% from 2021)1 driven by greater choice in a candidate driven market.

What Gen Z wants

Gen Z candidates expect a consumer grade experience when interacting with employers. Why should their recruitment experience be different to that of your clients or customers? This means:

  • a personalised experience with human connection 
  • transparency around status and timeframes
  • a process that is fast and responsive

Campus recruitment and the communications gap

In our 2022 candidate survey, a full 63% of respondents dropped out of a hiring process due to a lack of communication. And campus recruiters face a particularly unique communication gap. Candidates being offered during the autumn milk round have many months before the big intakes in the late summer. And thousands of summer interns are sitting on offers made over a year ahead of their full-time start date. Offer holders’ attention can wander, and your competitors will be wowing them if you’re not continually on their mind. 

Here’s the top 5 best practices I’ve seen:

  • Time outreach with holidays and other milestones. A simple ‘Happy Holidays’ or saying ‘good luck’ on mocks or January exams goes a long way.
  • Keep it punchy and mobile. I’m not a fan of the long newsletter that drops in your inbox twice a year. Instead, use SMS and WhatsApp. This kind of bitesize, regular communication keeps candidates engaged. 
  • Host an event. With many employees hiring virtually, give offer holders the chance to see your office space and meet your people. Remember how Gen Z prioritised their social life immediately post-lockdown? Capitalise on their willingness to socialise and build brand enthusiasm at the same time.
  • Treat joiners like the employees they are. Share internal messages such as positive press coverage and new benefit programs they’ll have access to when they join. Basically, tell you future joiners what they have to look forward to once their start date arrives. 

Some quick wins

With global events as they are, the next few months are uncertain for employers and candidates alike. Don’t leave your candidates in the dark – make sure you’re communicating with them regularly and with transparency. The average person checks their phone 150 times each day, and 90% of text messages are read within three minutes. Texts take seconds to write and, with the right tools, can be sent securely in bulk or 1:1. To find out more about HireVue’s Direct Messaging via SMS or WhatsApp, please get in touch.

1 Institute of Student Employers. (2022). Student recruitment survey 2022. London: Institute of Student Employers.