Finding and hiring IT talent is really hard in today’s economy. At RosterBuster we no issues with this; we have been able to recruit and retain some of the best talents of The Hague University. How we’ve done this is no rocket science; and we don’t mind sharing.
When people visit RosterBuster, I often get the question how we manage to attract so many students. As a small start-up company, we don’t have huge resources to spend on branding, recruitment, signing bonuses and salaries. But it is not luck, we’re following a number of strategies. Here are seven of them.
1. An office location in the vicinity of a University
We have put this to practice in the most extreme form: we’re in the same building as The Hague University. This building is called the Dutch Innovation Factory and was created to connect eduction to business. This is of course a huge advantage. But even if your company is not in a school building, being close to it helps. A tip is to explicitly state this when advertising online: “we’re just around the corner!” works great.
2. Know the teachers and help them do their jobs
One of the best ways to get to the best students, is through their teachers. They will know which students are performing well and are a match with your business. They are usually not looking to do networking, so the best way to approach it is by having something to offer. Example assignments and guest lectures or simply offer them a tour through the office, with their students.
3. Always be there, when there is a chance to interact with students
A lot of companies are not attending on meetups, open days and company markets organized by the institution to bring students and businesses together. One reason I hear a lot is that the students are in their first years, not yet looking for a job or an internship. But making contact early and repeat it, works. It’s a well known rule in marketing and it is no different in this case.
4. Offer students a paid side job
We have a couple of students coming in one or two days a week to do paid side jobs, plus they can make extra hours in the holidays. This is a great way to stay in touch with them and they enjoy a learning experience instead of doing some dull production labor. Of course a student can’t add much value to the business in this way, because their hours are limited. But once they start an internship at the company, it pays off. It is also a great way to keep them involved with the project after they did an internship.
5. Offer students to work on Saturdays
To make it possible for them to work next to their study, we are also open on Saturdays. At first it was a bit strange I must admit, waking up early in the weekends and walking into a deserted office building. Our office rooms are often the only ones occupied. But it opens up another opportunity for the collegers to work extra and earn some money. They like it and it keeps them around even if they are occupied with school on weekdays.
6. Ensure excellent accompaniment and a thriving learning environment
Students can do great things, especially in IT, but they’re as not experienced as a 10-year veteran. Content wise they can often deliver excellent performance, but most of the time they need coaching and directing. This is something to keep in mind: we have accepted this and are willing the provide it, as the benefits outweigh the costs.
7. Offer challenging and independent assignments that add value
An appealing assignment is very important if you want to attract and retain students. We try to make it involve the latest technology, while we also try to define an assignment that a student can complete on his own, not being dependent on others. This way he or she has full control and accountability towards school. Finally, we think it is important that any work done actually has value for the business. This is not just self-interest, it motivates the students a lot more to make something that actually reaches a customer, rather than if it goes straight into a drawer or a virtual shredder!
These are some things that work well for us to attract students. Of course this is not all. It remains a quest and needs constant attention and improvment. But we’re really happy with how it played out for us so far. We look forward to work with a lot of great talent in the future.