Campus Placements and Working at Startups are two equally promising trends in recruitment that are shaking things up for the corporate world. Question is, why don’t they go together? What’s stopping startups from tapping into this wide pool of talent that’s so much like them- new to nuances, eager to excel, and intelligently innovative?
Here are 7 problems startups face with campus recruitment:
- Lack of Brand Value By far the biggest reason startups avoid/fail at campus recruitment is the lack of brand value attached to them. Especially at particularly prestigious colleges, a number of students are looking to work in big companies with a multinational reach, hundreds of clients, and a million dollars worth of turnover. Given peer pressure, parental pressure, and a worldwide fear of the “big, bad world”, how can cash strapped startup with an idea; 5-15 people and no 10 clients compete? In addition, the best things about startups for those who’re made for their way of life are the worse things to those who aren’t i.e. the adventure, risk and growth. A number of fresh graduates who are unsure about what to do with their life, may opt for bigger companies just because they there’s a lesser chance of failure.
- Missing out on talent Startups want students who’re willing to take the road less travelled and take their first job with an unknown company with no name, no name and no brand, but they only want talent from the most famous, branded colleges? Isn’t that beyond hypocritical? As more and more startups read this post- or, miraculously, think of it on their own- they’re starting to target the Yale’s and the Harvard’s, missing out on a whole plethora of ingenuity, creativity and raw talent that lurks in lesser known colleges. Even worse, they sometimes employ very non-startup like recruiting tactics and are very often afraid to be innovative when they hire. Meanwhile, the brilliant young minds, dissatisfied with working at big companies, but desperate to be entrepreneurial, are starting on their own ventures, with too many of them being unable to follow through (someone needs to make the two parties meet!) In addition, this is leading to a whole new problem of fierce competition wherein startups are unable to get talent because other startups got there first!
- Waste of time What with the long drawn process of choosing the right colleges, contacting them, coordinating with them, etc, a lot of time goes into just getting onto campus, let alone getting to the hiring stage, which in itself involves taking a number of unsuccessful interviews, conducting tests, etc. In addition, once applications are received, a lot of time goes in sorting through them- be it resumes and /or selection test results- which would come in large numbers, as opposed to a hire through referral (sigh, if only there was a better way to do it).
- Waste of manpower The founders and co founders would invariably be deeply involved in the slew of additional tasks thrown up by campus recruitment, since hiring for a startup is too important to be a subsidiary function. They might even opt to visit the campus to speak to students directly and make an impression. In addition, company representatives need to attend campus fairs, interviewers need to be ready to chosen and prepared (note: most startups usually do without an HR manager/department), and invigilators need to be sent to monitor test takers, collect answer sheets, bring them back for evaluation, the works. That might just be more people than a startup employs (sigh, if only there was a better way to do it).
- Wrong people Company representatives at the campus fairs are sometimes seen looking bored or disinterested, instead of inviting students to have a chat. Worse, they’re unable to effectively answer all their queries, saying things like “We’ll get back to you on that”. This lets students detect a lack of professionalism, which can be greatly damaging to a startup’s reputation. In addition, startups aren’t in the business of hiring recruiters or HR professionals, since they rarely hire in bulk, and so, campus recruitment may throw up a number of tasks that aren’t anybody’s forte.
- Unclear expectations True to character, startups can sometimes get a little too excited and cross the thin line between idealism and ambiguity. They may get so focused on finding the right kind of person for their startup that they lose sight of the skill set, competencies and abilities they need in a potential recruit. Their job description might thus look lackluster or incomplete, with their job specifications too being just motley of terms like “dreamer, innovator, out-of-the-box”. In addition, just because a candidate is a fresher doesn’t mean he/she has no way of differentiating himself from his/her peers; there are just as many college goers who do nothing but what they’re told as there are those who spend their 3 years as productively as possible. Though neither is good or bad, the two kinds of fresh grads are meant for different kinds of jobs, and startups sometimes don’t decide which one it is they really need.
- Dealing with the young With the entrepreneurial spirit affecting experienced professionals just as much as the young guns, startups are in no better a position than any big company with seasoned recruiters with whom students may feel they have a generation gap. They too have to deal with the stress of students who don’t respond to official invites, miss interview dates, keep recruiters hanging, demand exorbitant salaries, and explicitly lie on their resumes. In addition, startups sometimes make the blunder of not communicating clearly enough with students- making many of the same mistakes they fault students for, like forgetting to get back in touch with them, not sticking to dates and deadlines, etc- which comes off as a lack of seriousness, intent or survivability. Another opportunity startups miss out is converting interns into full time employees.