Unconscious bias can creep in on hiring processes no matter how self-aware and educated your hiring team is. Unfortunately, one bias feels more like a ‘resource’ for many employers – looking at their college for new hires.
Leaning into this talent source isn’t a bad strategy if you’re not giving preferential consideration to candidates because of their association with your college. However, it can limit your talent pool. There are several ways to stay connected with colleges and use career centers to funnel in fresh talent while expanding your talent resources to grow your candidate pool.
Here are a few tips to avoid alumni bias in the hiring process while using colleges as a talent resource:
Your workforce likely has ties to diverse institutions where you can build relationships with career services and recruit fresh talent. The best thing about polling employees for recommendations to build connections with colleges and universities to source talent, is you get honest feedback about the education and experience gained by candidates.
Entry-level hires may even have referrals from their college network. Employee referrals are more likely to be strong fits for your team. And hires from referrals often have the highest retention rates. By expanding your recruiting efforts to include college alumni of your diverse workforce, you can boost several important hiring metrics while establishing a positive reputation with multiple institutions.
Creating unique opportunities for college students to gain experience while pursuing their careers shows future potential candidates you’re invested in their long-term success. Internships on location may not work for students or your organization, depending on your office size or location in relation to the colleges and universities you’re looking to source from.
The workforce has shifted largely to remote and hybrid work models overall. It would be beneficial to students to learn to work autonomously and add experience in a remote work environment to their resumes before graduation. You can reduce in-office costs while benefiting from the contributions of eager interns by assessing what roles you have that work well as remote positions, even if your current employees in those roles work in the office.
Internships are a big commitment and many students may not be able to work a part or full-time position into their schedule. Mentoring opportunities could be a valuable alternative for these students. Fine-tuning skills as mentors is great for developing your mentorship programs as well.
There are countless opportunities to connect with college students and alumni in the wild as well. You can build relationships with non-profits and various organizations that are affiliated with nearby educational institutions. For example, if your company is invested in animal welfare, you could coordinate staff volunteers at a local animal shelter that provides off-campus educational opportunities.
Students who work with employees at the animal shelter can learn more about your company’s culture, values, and mission. This helps them assess for fit and be open to filling seats on your team when the opportunity arises.
Colleges and universities are a bountiful source for candidates to fill all sorts of roles. If you shift your talent strategy to look at alumni organizations without bias, you can be the first source top talent looks to when entering the workforce.