How to Recruit Current Students into Part-Time Roles

With the rising cost of living, more students are working part time to support themselves at university. So, what are the best ways for employers to target current students and attract the best of this increasingly important section of the workforce? Find out in our blog post.

Tim Horrocks
Created on
July 18, 2023
Average time to read:

The 2022 National Student Money Survey found that 62% of UK students have a part-time job while studying. At around 10% of the workforce, the important role that students play as employees is reflected in the increased flexibility offered by many employers to allow for things like exams, lectures and assignment deadlines. Students are valuable employees, particularly for retail and hospitality businesses. But, it goes beyond that. Build up good relationships with students while they study and you could be front of mind when they graduate and are looking for a permanent role.

How can businesses make sure they get their share of student candidates when they start university in September? In this blog, we’ll show you. You’ll learn how to target students with messaging that stands out and make your organisation as visible as possible to students searching for job opportunities online.

Using mobile advertising to target students

A study of Cambridge University students produced some startling figures about students' smartphone use, with History students spending an average of 11hrs 41mins on their smartphones each day, Human, Social and Political Science students, 11hrs 23mins and relatively phone-shy History and Modern Languages students spending 8hr 47mins on their phones per day. All of which shows that mobile advertising is a great way to reach students. Let’s look at some of the different ways you can target students with recruitment messaging on mobile.

Mobile Plus

Mobile Plus combines mobile phone geotargeting with keywords (based on search terms used), contextual (based on the kind of website content viewed by a user) and demographic targeting. Data from Experian or another third-party data partner can provide deeper insight into your target audience and their marketing preferences. The more detailed the information, the more effective the targeting—and the stronger the likelihood of a good ROI on your ad spend.

One of the biggest benefits of Mobile Plus is ringfencing. Software allows us to actively ringfence locations like student halls, students’ unions or careers fairs and deliver ads to relevant people who visit those locations. This can be done in real time or later, if it’s deemed better for engagement.

Mobile Plus can be used to serve standard mobile banner ads, video ads or interactive rich media adverts—so there’s room for a lot of creativity in your messaging to students.

Social Media

What about dropping your ad right into a student’s social media feed? Doing so effectively, and at scale, takes a strategic approach and plenty of expertise. Here at Genius, we work with employers to find out where their team members hang out online and use that as the basis of a social media strategy for engaging similar candidates.

We also partner with a platform that uses artificial intelligence and big data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google to identify and serve adverts to audiences likely to engage with them. Ads are served across the full range of social channels and candidates can be retargeted via Google Display Network to encourage them to convert.

Our campaign results show how effective this can be when recruiting for the kind of part-time or seasonal roles that students typically work in. A campaign promoting seasonal roles at Clarks, for example, generated a CTR of 6.95% on Facebook (when 2-5% is considered a good CTR for social media ads).

Want to create a mobile ad campaign that targets students where they hang out online? Book a consultation.

Targeting students with out of home advertising

Out of home (OOH) advertising is a way to turn student events into recruitment opportunities with strategically placed ads. Rather than targeting students on their phones or online, OOH advertising refers to advertising that has a physical presence in the real world. Some OOH advertising that we use to target students here at Genius include:

Adbikes and Digivans

These are bikes or vans that display ads. They can be placed outside a student union or circulate in areas with a high population of students, such as near student halls of residence or around campus. One big benefit to both of these media is that they are environmentally friendly. Adbikes run on pedal power and the digivan company we work with at Genius offers solar powered e-vans— which really resonates with environmentally conscious student audiences.

Clean graffiti

Applied to pavements or walls with a jet wash and stencil, clean graffiti can be used to direct audiences to a careers site, a store, or a stand at a recruitment fair where students can learn more about roles and apply. Guerrilla advertising techniques like clean graffiti can help your messaging stand out to audiences—like freshers—who are bombarded with messaging via more traditional advertising channels.

Digital posters in accommodation

An OOH advertising format exclusively for student audiences which involves displaying ads on screens in private student halls of residence. So, quite literally outside their home. The exclusivity of the student audience for this channel means that messaging can be highly targeted which, in turn, means stronger engagement. Following a campaign run by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, a survey found that 92% of respondents said they wanted to see more graduate opportunities advertised in their halls of residence.

Want an OOH advertising campaign that will cut through the noise of student recruitment? Book a consultation.

Job boards

According to research into Gen-Z candidate behaviour conducted by The Student Room on behalf of Genius, 88% of respondents said they would use job boards like Indeed and Reed to search for jobs. So, although other methods might be smarter in how they target their audience, the more traditional method of typing a job title into a job board is still popular.

It’s worth remembering, though, that there are seven touchpoints on the average candidate journey to employment. An ad on a job board might make a candidate aware of your organisation, but it won’t provide the engagement that is typically required for them to choose you as an employer over others vying for their attention—especially in today’s competitive jobs market. For that you need a recruitment campaign that also incorporates social media and OOH engagement.

Book a consultation to develop a student recruitment campaign that engages across all candidate touchpoints.

Building a student audience with content marketing

OOH advertising and mobile marketing are great for attracting students to fill your immediate vacancies. But what about putting a solution in place that will make you an employer of choice for students in the long-term? That’s where content marketing comes in. It’s the process of creating content for publication on your website and distribution via social media channels as a means of attracting and engaging candidates, building an audience for your employer brand and driving SEO.

Content marketing can take many forms. Here at Genius, we produce podcasts, written content such as blogs, social media posts and whitepapers, and video content. The format depends on the tastes of the target audience—which we learn about by conducting focus groups with the model employees at an organisation (its ‘persona champions’). We use the information from research that we commissioned into Gen-Z candidate behaviours to produce content themed around the interests, ambitions and pain-points of our target audience as a way of attracting and engaging like-minded people.

Producing original content not only helps to establish your brand as a thought leader with your audience, but it is also rewarded with higher search rankings by Google. Written blog content is a particularly effective way of boosting SEO. Including keyword phrases popular with your target audience as search terms will help your blog posts to rank higher in search results. The more this happens, and the longer visitors stay on your site reading content, the more it improves search engine visibility—so there’s a direct link between quality of content and search engine performance.

Building a longer-term relationship with student audiences is especially important for businesses that offer graduate programmes. The relationship might begin with an online ad for a temporary job—but content marketing is a way to maintain the relationship so that, come graduation, your graduate scheme will be the first port of call.

Interested in developing a strategy for attracting, engaging and maintaining a student audience? Book a consultation.

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