For Lisa Kramer, variety is a cornerstone of a stimulating career.
“I’m definitely not the kind of person to sit at my desk and do the same thing each day,” she says.
It’s that attitude to variety that has made her an industry leader in a field that is constantly changing.
As the director of global campus recruiting at RBC, Lisa has a wealth of hands-on insight to share with current or aspiring campus recruitment professionals – insight backed by 17 years of experience.
“What I love about campus recruitment is the variety. It’s part event planning, it’s part recruiting, it’s a lot of networking and relationship building,” she says. “No day is ever the same as the one before, which really excites me.”
Changes in the field
Since campus recruitment is constantly evolving, Lisa says organizations will face different challenges in developing and improving their own campus recruitment strategies.
However, communication is always a key step.
“The first thing is to understand the current stakes,” she says. “First meet with stakeholders, hiring managers and people who have recently been brought into the organization. Then assess the current state of your recruitment program and find where the gaps are.”
“Students today are constantly online. If you’re not online, you’re missing an opportunity to reach out to those students.”
These gaps can be internal or external, Lisa explains. Sometimes an organization doesn’t have a clear goal or might be overlooking areas where their efforts don’t match up with what candidates are truly looking for.
To discover opportunities for growth, make sure you’re asking the right questions and have set your priorities, Lisa says.
“Are you building a co-op program to feed into full-time opportunities? Are you looking to do full-time recruiting only? What skills are you looking for? You need to make sure you’re recruiting at the right school and in the right programs to find the right talent.”
A changing audience
While campus recruitment has evolved, so have the students who recruiters are trying to connect with.
“Campus recruitment has had a major shift over the last decade in how students communicate with employers and the information they’re looking for,” says Lisa. “Students are much more proactive now and really understand the importance of relationship building. They’re reaching out, getting information and finding professionals to connect with on their own.”
With an interest in more information comes an equally strong set of questions and engagement, she explains. “Students want to know what their career path with an organization can look like, who they’d be working with, what level of responsibility they’d have and what their next step beyond that first role could be.”
“For me, campus recruitment is so much more than just screening, interviewing and assessing.”
In addition to a higher level of engagement, students bring a strong set of values to the workplace.
“We get a lot of questions about the causes and charities that we support as an organization,” says Lisa. “Students want to work in an organization that shares their drive to help make the world a better place. They’re passionate about volunteerism and how they’d be able to continue that commitment in the workplace.”
The role of digital media
Changes in the target audience for campus recruitment have evolved with the explosion of digital media, which has become a vital recruitment asset in the most recent years of Lisa’s career.
“I don’t think that every employer is using digital media effectively,” she says. “Students today are constantly online. If you’re not online, you’re missing an opportunity to reach out to those students.”
Lisa says that RBC aims to use digital media as an inclusive tool. “We’ve really started to utilize our online and social media channels to share knowledge with candidates from any school,” Lisa says. “We want to make sure that all students have access to the same information whether they’re able to attend one of our on-campus events or not.”
Integrating online media also creates a new tool to cross-present information on existing platforms, she says. RBC recently added a live Twitter feed to their homepage so visitors who aren’t on Twitter have easy access to the same information.
“This helps us bring the RBC story to life so students can get to know us and our programs better,” Lisa says.
While digital media is an obvious platform to communicate your message, Lisa cautions that effective communication means providing what students want, not only what you want to share with them.
“There are challenges inside any organization about who creates the content shared with students,” she says. “A lot of companies haven’t connected with students in meaningful enough way to really understand the information they’re looking for.”
“It’s a business. It’s not fluff.”
RBC developed their digital media strategy to include on-going assessment and improvement by holding in-house activities like focus groups with co-op students and recent grad hires, Lisa says.
She adds that it’s important to look at social media as a place to develop your message, not just display it. “Social media is an opportunity to have a real two-way dialogue with students and we can draw some of our best conclusions from those conversations.”
For example, throughout this summer RBC held weekly LinkedIn chats with students to help audit the information they’re sharing with their audience. “Very quickly we were able to see some patterns in the questions students were asking,” says Lisa. “Now we can make sure this information is reflected in our engagement with students throughout the year and answer their questions before they even need to ask them.”
On the leading edge of campus recruitment, Lisa is enthusiastic about the potential growth for her field in the future.
“More and more companies are seeing the value of having a formal campus recruitment program. Despite that, the number of people who truly understand campus recruitment is still quite low, particularly in Canada.”
This future development will create both a wealth of entry level positions as well as promising long-term opportunities.
“We’re seeing companies start to recognize campus recruiting as a key function of their organization,” Lisa says. “It’s exciting to see more and more senior roles opening up as companies develop their programs.”
When it comes to wisdom for aspiring or new campus recruitment professionals, she says making sure you understand your field is key.
“It’s a business,” she says. “It’s not fluff. There’s a lot of passion, energy and thought that goes into finding the type of talent we’re looking for and deciding where we’re going to maximize our exposure to find that talent.”
“No day is ever the same as the one before, which really excites me.”
If you’re serious about campus recruiting, Lisa has one word of advice: network.
“If you build a solid relationship network, there will always be people that you can reach out to for help, support and information,” she says. “Everyone that I know in campus recruitment is certainly happy to share their experience, especially if you’re the only person in your organization.”
This is an excellent way to keep up to date on best practices and developing trends. “In turn, it’s always satisfying to be able to help someone discover their passion for a field that I love so much,” Lisa adds.
Networking also means getting yourself out there, she adds. “If you’re looking to bounce ideas or get input, there are groups you can reach out to, whether it’s through NACE, CACEE, or TalentEgg’s Campus Recruitment Excellence Conference.”
Ultimately, it’s networking that has led to Lisa’s career success.
“For me, campus recruitment is so much more than just screening, interviewing and assessing,” she says. “Relationship building is a crucial skill down the road whether you plan to make a career in campus recruitment or in any other industry.”