Resource for Recruiters: How to Attract College Students with Your Ad



I’ve written many articles aimed at my fellow millennials on the subject of recruitment, specifically within the job and internship market. If you’re a current college student, though, this might be a good time to stop reading. In this article, I will be speaking to a slightly different crowd — those aiming to recruit us.

If you’re a recruitment professional, or just someone who got stuck with the task of hiring your company’s summer interns or filling a random entry level job, you know all too well the importance of connecting with your potential recruits. You might only be a few years older than the people you’re trying to recruit, but we all know that students and adults communicate differently.

Just as it is crucial for us students to distinguish ourselves from the many, many other college students who are applying for the same positions we are interested in, it is vital for you to make your ads stand out from ads posted by companies similar to yours. Speaking as a college student who constantly checks the job and internship postings on many different websites, I can say with confidence that when I come across ten social media internship postings in a row, it can often be overwhelming, particularly when every ad looks exactly the same. If you want to catch the eye of a smart, creative college student or recent graduate, it is important that your ad be unique.

I still remember a headline that caught my eye years ago — “Lazy Intern Wanted.” I was curious as to what kind of employer would want to hire someone who described themselves as “lazy” but the ad, which was quite amusing, realistically summed up what a typical college intern would do on a given day with several humorous quips. Wanting to see what type of employer would write such an interesting ad, I forwarded along my resume.

Distinguish your ad’s headline

Many job and internship sites let you introduce your ad with a headline. Most introductory headlines are a direct indicator of their ad. Often, we see headlines such as “Social Media Intern Needed for Fast-Growing Startup.” I know you’re just trying to get to the point, but understand that many other companies like your own are going to post exactly the same headline.

If you want to stand out, try something as simple as including the industry your company is in. Every student has industries that they want to gain experience in. I know pre-med students who would jump at the chance to do social media work for a company in the healthcare field, but wouldn’t consider doing the same thing for an art magazine. Of course, the same can be said for students who are interested in art, but not health or medicine.

Many students find the number of internship ads that they see overwhelming and view the application process a chore. Busy students who know they really should be studying for upcoming exams don’t want to spend two hours reading through every single ad they see; they want to apply to as many as possible during their study break. Most of us want to find work in the field that interests us, and you can bet we’re scoping the job postings for our particular fields, whatever they may be.

Distinguish the body of the ad

As far as the body of the ad goes, there are a few things that should be noted. You don’t need to waste too much time talking about the fast-growing aspect. You should delve into company growth in an internship ad only if you plan to offer equity as a form of compensation. But the fact of the matter is that most of us would prefer money over shares, at least if your company has yet to go public. The need for fast cash among college students is not a new phenomenon and should not be understated, which brings us to the next point.

If your position is paid, it should be clearly stated in your ad. If it is unpaid, the same applies. Internship ads that don’t make clear whether or not the position is paid often come across as somewhat underhanded. There’s no reason why an employer shouldn’t specify what the exact compensation will be for the position that they are offering. I was once told by an interviewer, “If you produce, you’ll get paid.” Phrases like that are often enough to send would-be interns running.

On a closing note, you don’t need to include the phrase “You won’t be getting coffee for us here!” If I’m applying for an internship, I want to know what I will be doing and I’m not concerned with what I won’t be. Keep your ad body simple and get to the point. I should let you know though that most interns don’t actually mind getting coffee. We typically stop for it on the way to work. I know I do anyway. We just don’t want fetching coffee to be our main responsibility. We’re often more eager to learn what you, as an employer, have to teach us than what some of our college professors do. Challenge us, and let us dazzle you with how much we can do.

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