A new recruiting approach

Dec 31, 2023

Enhance recruitment by focusing on individual connections, forming partnerships with diverse institutions, and building robust internship programs.

The most important part of recruiting new staff is building meaningful relationships with potential prospects. Campus recruitment and career fairs are a staple in the industry but, while they are still an excellent choice to stay connected with new talent, there are a variety of ways to meet the bright minds of the next generation. It is critical to review your strategy and identify what works best for your company. Reflect not only on what has worked in the past, but also think about what new approaches can help you moving forward.

Previous campus recruitment. In the past, campus recruitment was more narrow-minded. Typically, a firm selects a school (or schools) with a lot of potential talent, connects with students, posts available positions, and waits for applications. This is a typical standard approach that has been done for years. Yes, there is still value in presenting your brand and physically being at career fairs, but other sources of recruitment have proven to be equally, if not more, effective and have recently led to more successful opportunities.

A new approach. Today’s society is focused on the future. This not only applies to data and technology improvements in all industries, but it applies to recruiting tactics as well. Rather than following a traditional model, the focus needs to shift to finding better ways to form relationships with potential hires. With that in mind, how can you differentiate yourself from the crowd and make a lasting impression?

There are a variety of new approaches worth exploring:

  • Target the individual. Rather than focusing on a large university, it is important to get to know the people you are looking to hire. Instead of focusing on the general public, shift gears and target individuals and chapters at universities to really get to know each person. Create ways to engage with this demographic and consider hosting events or outings to provide insight to the culture of the firm and gain meaningful interactions. It is important to remember to not simply fill the open position, but to fill it with the person who is best-suited to join the firm. Pursue building relationships with potential prospects instead of having the mindset of filling a position.
  • Form partnerships. Creating connections with all universities is a great idea, and additional opportunities arise when partnerships are extended to community colleges and training programs. There are many roles available in our industry and we need a wide variety of people to fill them. In addition to finding people who fit well into the culture of your firm, it is also important to place people in jobs that they are passionate about and want to do long-term. Consider partnering with community colleges or training programs to prepare candidates for duties of specific jobs in the workforce to help them excel in a position for many years to come. This method reaches a new group of potential talent and can be extremely beneficial.
  • Robust internship programs. Having a thriving internship program is beneficial to not only your firm, but it is beneficial to all the students with the desire to learn more about their field from subject matter experts as well. These programs provide real-life opportunities to work on-site, train, and engage with mentors. Experiences like an internship cannot be replicated in a classroom, thus building workforce development and preparing students for life after graduation. To maintain a thriving intern program, it is critical to try to accommodate interns as best as possible and utilize their talent while providing opportunities in the workplace. A robust intern program provides a handful of great in-house applicants that could join full-time.

Campus recruitment and career fairs have been the go-to recruiting tactic for decades, and, while they still do their job, there is greater opportunity and higher impact by exploring new approaches. The world is evolving and adapting tactics and strategies to find more effective methods in recruiting will lead to exceptional outcomes. Take the time to review your current recruiting strategy. What is working and what can be improved? Avoid the cookie-cutter approach of recruiting and differentiate yourself. 

Jesse Sievers is a talent acquisition manager at WSB. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.