ABR: Always Be Recruiting. How to Build a Pipeline of Talented Intern Candidates

Most of you know Alec Baldwin’s famous speech in Glengarry Glen Ross where he shares the golden rule of sales: “ABC: Always Be Closing.” Even more so than sales, recruiting is a job where you need to always be on. If you’re not constantly building a pipeline of candidates and promoting your brand, chances are that the top candidates you want to hire will slip through the cracks.

In the past, this has been very tough to accomplish in college recruiting. With the constant churn of new students and high cost associated with building a brand on campus, most companies resigned their hiring efforts to a few key schools. However, the biggest companies with the deepest pockets got ahead by building massive university teams to cover more ground. For example, Microsoft is so dedicated to the process of recruiting interns that they have a college recruiter responsible for every technical university in the country. At key campuses like University Illinois Urbana Champagne, Microsoft has a rep full-time on campus to meet with student groups and even take them out to get free ice cream!

Fortunately, with more students heading online to find internships, either through Google, social media channels, or other means, you can now build a pipeline of talented interns who fit your needs at a fraction of the cost of building a huge team and traveling around the country.

Here are some key ways you can use new online technology to make sure you are recruiting throughout the year and staying competitive when hiring students:

1.) Create an always-up online presence

Students are now Google searching their trig homework, so you better believe they are searching for your program online. Whether you have an up-to-date and branded careers page that promotes your internship program online, or use another online tool like Jobvite, SmartRecruiters, BraveNewTalent or InternMatch, you should always have an online site where a student can learn about your employment brand and be able to submit a resume.

The more rich you make such pages, the more powerful they can be. For example, offering video testimonials helps share the details you would normally explain at a career fair. Or, by highlighting all the roles you offer, even the ones that are not currently open, you can help students understand all your available positions and when they should check back to apply in the future.

2.) Create unique content online

New online communities mean you can reach a greater number of students at far lower costs then ever in the past, if you know how to engage students in these channels. A great example is Nestle Purina, who is constantly rated as one of the top places to work on Glassdoor, but faces challenges recruiting students since they are based in St. Louis and away from many of the marque east and west coast universities. They found a solution by building great college recruiting social media accounts that allow them to engage students across the country and year-round.

Their Nestle Purina Careers Facebook page and twitter account are very active. In addition, now, when Nestle does unique activities like this intern flash mob, they can easily promote it through these channels to a large and relevant student audience. Last but not least, these social media accounts are also integrated into their online job sites so the content reaches potential candidates who are already researching their company.

Students nowadays care more about culture and professional experience than any other form of intern compensation – so having a social media presence that helps share your culture is more critical than ever in the past.

3.) Start Waterfalling

One of the most cost effective tools for recruiting A-list students is tapping your current intern class. If you can get your current interns to start recommending and recruiting your next batch of interns, you can build a never-ending recruiting waterfall!

A critical component of this strategy relies on point #1 as former interns will be most effective if you have a landing page where they can easily point their friends to go and learn about your internship program. If done correctly, this process can be extremely effective not only reducing your recruiting costs, but leading to better fit, and increased conversions to full-time.

Ready to go!

Remember, “Always Be Recruiting” is one-part actions and one-part mind-set. By building a high quality internship page where you can always accept students, and developing a culture that signals to students you are always hiring, you will be well on your way to building a better and more cost efficient internship program.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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