Here’s some tough news for companies seeking to hire strong new college graduates: Recruiting competition, already fierce, is only going to intensify. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that college hiring will rise nearly 10 percent this year.
Increasingly, firms competing for high-caliber collegiate talent against consultancies, financial services firms and technology, media and healthcare companies are responding to competitive hiring pressures by moving their recruiting timelines earlier. Many in-demand grads from high prestige schools like MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard will accept offers this month and next for jobs they expect to begin next summer, many months from now.
The accelerated recruiting timeline, coupled with increasingly brazen poaching practices, has produced a substantial rise in reneged offers. Given how resource-intensive recruiting is in the first place, you may want to employ these strategies to help you reduce the odds that your hard-won new hires will renege on you.
1. Re-imagine the hiring cycle.
Recruiting no longer ends with a signed offer -- rather, that’s merely a milestone on the journey to start date. In particular for strong technical students attending top schools, the recruiting season continues well after offers are signed. Sometimes those students actively pursue new opportunities, despite having signed offers in hand, and sometimes recruiters descend uninvited upon them bearing offers they can’t refuse. Know this is the new reality and plan for it.
2. Make students feel good about their decision.
Once students accept your offer, immediately make them feel like part of the team. Send them a fun welcome package, potentially including wearable schwag like hats and shirts that they’ll wear often and think of you. Send them a personalized card, signed by the whole team, so they feel valued and connected not just to the company but also to the individuals working there.
3. Assign an account manager to manage communications over the coming months.
Hold someone on your team accountable for ongoing communications with the student. Make sure they know about new funding or major product or partner announcements. Make sure they’re invited to dinner or coffee whenever any executives or future team members are in town.
Plan for a cadence of meaningful, personsonalized communications once every two to three months. Remind them about the cool things they will be doing, and emphasize the points that matter to them -- which means you need to really know what matters to them. Essentially, sell them on your firm over and over again so they don’t forget why they accepted in the first place.
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4. Spread the love.
Make sure the candidate feels connected to multiple individuals within the organization -- not just to the recruiter, but also to the hiring manager, future team members and executives. The more personal connections the student has, the harder it will be for him or her to seriously consider reneging.
5. Help get them settled.
Moving is tough, whether it be down the street or especially across the country or to a new country. If the students don’t know the area, have an employee or hired hand take them around town to help them figure out where they might want to live. If you have the resources, hire a full-service moving company plus a broker to help the students find housing and consider helping with advances for rent and security deposits.
If you don’t have the resources for a broker, you can be scrappy like us, and ask a junior employee to search housing listings and actually visit properties for the students. The more seamless and the less stressful the move, the happier the employees will be.
6. Don’t hold a grudge.
Stay in contact with candidates to whom you extended offers and who changed their minds or did not accept in the first place. While it’s not neighborly to try to poach, it does make sense to touch base periodically to make sure these candidates are sticking with their decisions and are happy at their jobs after they start. Even if they’re happy with their decisions, they may have talented friends who aren’t.
It’s a brutal market for companies trying to hire top talent. You’ve worked too hard to win these folks just to lose them before they even begin.