10 Ways to Recruit the Smartest College Graduates for Your Startup

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / July 5, 2013

Recent GraduatesWhat is one tip you have to help a new startup recruit this year’s smartest college graduates?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Be Unique

No matter what your business is, there is something that makes it stand out from the rest. College kids are loving the startup scene, and you have to show that you are ready to change the world or that you have amazing company culture and will bring them to an incredible place to work (or both). This should come across immediately in the job description.
Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

2. Screen for Startup Fit

When we advise startups and high-growth companies how to hire, we always start with what we call the startup screen. This is essential for college grads. You want people who can balance individual responsibility with team commitment. Will they step up and be stars when needed? Will they also be willing to take one for the team and pitch in when needed? Tailor questions specific to this first!
Susan Strayer LaMotte, exaqueo

3. Don’t Rely on Pedigree

Being smart isn’t everything. Work ethic, gumption and independent thinking are far more important. There can be an inverse relationship between the prestige of the university and the willingness of the grad to do whatever it takes to succeed. Don’t be blinded by pedigree — assess for the qualities that really matter to you.
Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

4. Establish an Internship Program

Many college graduates determine what companies they apply to based on their internship programs. Establish an internship program that gives your interns real responsibilities. If your interns enjoy their experiences, they will tell others about your company. You can eventually offer post-grad jobs to your best interns, which is another attractive quality in itself.
Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

5. Tell Your Startup Story

College students want to be part of innovative, fun companies that are trying to change the world. Do a compelling job telling your story. Many companies are tempted to skip the startup story and focus on how big and respected they are now. People love entrepreneurship. Make your company feel personal by showing them your mindset when you started the company and where you want to go.
Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors

6. Have a Parents’ Weekend

I just learned that Dropbox has a “Parent’s Weekend” every year for its employees. It’s an opportunity to share what the company does and what the culture is like. Parents are critical advisers to college graduates. Find a way to get them on board, and you’ll seriously increase your hiring yield.
Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

7. Create Job Postings That Pop

Stand out with your job postings. Create a heading that pops. Keep it short. Use the words “ninja,” “super hero” and “machine” in your title to get them to click on the posting. Talk about your culture (Ping-Pong tables, Clif Bars, veggies, energy drinks, relaxed dress code, etc.) in your posting. Who would you want to work for?
Ziver Birg, ZIVELO

8. Talk Long Term

Be sure to focus on career trajectory and lifetime earning potential. Show college graduates who begin at startups that they have the most options for their longer-term careers, including starting their own businesses one day.
Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

9. Position It as Continued Education

Present the opportunity as continued education, not a “job.” I’ve found that most of the top post-grad talent we seek is really just looking for a position/company that is an evolved extension of college. I’ve given up on trying to sell people directly out of college on a “career” — that comes later. Rather, I present them with an opportunity where they can apply what they’ve just learned.
Andrew Loos, Attack!

10. Go to Their Campuses

Identify your best targets, build relationships with their career centers, and do something on campus to stand out. You won’t have a bigger impact than showing up on their doorstep.
Jeff Berger, Doostang and Universum Group

About The Author


Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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