For many companies, entry level sales positions are on-site jobs – meaning the job has to be performed in a local office. This is often the case because it is much easier, and far more impactful, to train and ramp a team of on-site sales reps. If your go-to-market plan includes a team of entry level sales professionals, consider recruiting from local colleges and universities. These schools can be a great resource for young sales candidates who are eagerly looking for their first career opportunity.
The key to a successful recruiting program includes a process or roadmap that can be easily managed too.
Target the right schools.
Some schools have career centers that are better equipped to support your recruiting efforts. Start with the schools that have good support services for students and that are proactively engaging with local employers. This will ensure that the time and energy you invest into the recruiting program will deliver positive results.
Some schools also offer sales courses, including minors and majors. If any of your local schools offer these courses, be sure to add them to your short list.
Attend career fairs.
Sign up for a booth at your local schools’ career fairs. Note that some of these events are free, while others may charge a fee. Career events are a great way to meet students and spread the word that you are hiring. It’s always better to meet people in person, and this is a great way to proactively engage and attract the attention of sales candidates.
Here’s a quick tip: Bring one of your junior sales people – if possible, someone close to the age of the candidates you will be recruiting and/or someone who graduated from the school you’re visiting. Having a younger, or even familiar face will make it less intimidating for students to approach you.
Internships are a great way to attract junior sales candidates and build a pipeline of potential sales employees. Many will be interested in working for you prior to graduating – during the summers of their freshman, sophomore and junior years. By the time they graduate, they will be very familiar with your business, and their learning curve will be far shorter than others.
Work with the career services departments at your local colleges and universities to offer internships. Or post the jobs on the university’s job board and tag their social media outlets. Be sure to highlight that you are a local business and frequently hire interns from local colleges and universities.
Spread the word on social media.
Social media is the primary information source for junior sales professionals. Show support of local colleges and universities by promoting them on social media – whether it’s a congratulations for winning a big sporting event or award, or highlighting your employees who attended those schools. When it makes sense, tag the university.
The key here is to be continuously present so that when students start to think about their career and job opportunities, your business is top of mind.
Create a career plan for postgrads.
Have a well thought out and documented career plan for junior candidates, with a vision of what the near-term and long-term future looks like with your company. It’s critical to remember that junior sales candidates want to partner with a company that will invest in their success.
Items to consider while building your career plan:
- Training opportunities
- Promotion timelines
- Compensation highlights
- Real-world examples of a (relatable) rep’s progression
- Any incentives that makes your pipeline or business unique
Local colleges and universities can be a candidate goldmine, but you will have to dedicate the time and resources to engage, whether it is with students or with the school’s career center. Start by researching the schools near you, the courses they offer that relate to your business, and any upcoming career events. Once you build a relationship, these schools can provide a steady flow of great candidates, especially as recently-hired graduates start referring their friends and networks.