“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” —Jim Collins

It takes, on average, 42 days to fill a given position and costs $4,129. Because the success of every organization boils down to its people, this is time and money well-spent (assuming, of course, you get the right people into the right positions).

For many organizations, students and new graduates are prime candidates to fill the bill when it comes to the “right person.” These budding professionals are in learning mode and are therefore readily trainable to the ways your organization operates. Conversely, they also tend to bring a fresh perspective, fostering and contributing to organizational innovation. Today’s traditionally-aged college students—Gen Z—represent a generation of two billion globally. These digital natives are adept at multi-tasking and are connected, diverse, pragmatic, and focused on impact; all characteristics that could positively impact the performance and culture of an organization.

And although it may be assumed that these new professionals are inexperienced, the vast majority are graduating with relevant, real word experience in-hand. For example, at Towson University we typically see three-fourths of our students graduating with internships. Many with more than one. And, while this allows for the development of field-specific skills, the fact that 70% of students work while pursuing their degree means the majority of students are also graduating with a demonstrated work ethic and transferable competencies such as communication, teamwork, and problem solving.

Connecting with college-trained talent is easier than ever. Every university, typically through its career center, offers a free, online platform to advertise your opportunities to students and graduates. This is a simple and straightforward way to connect with thousands of candidates in a few keystrokes.

But breaking through all the noise to reach the “right” candidates often requires a multi-pronged approach. Central to this is the importance and power of good old-fashioned relationships. Become connected and top-of-mind with students by volunteering to serve as a mentor, participating in career panels, conducting resume reviews or practice interviews, talking with relevant student organizations, or participating in networking events. And, of course, don’t forget tried-and-true, in-person events such as career fairs and on-campus interviews. Successful recruitment strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all, but there is something for everyone.

And while recruitment and connection strategies are key to positive hiring outcomes, the best way of ensuring a quality talent pipeline is to bring students into your organization as interns. Hiring interns has many benefits, including leveraging the talents of budding professionals while simultaneously testing out their aptitudes and fit in a low-commitment context. As an added benefit, investing in developing a quality internship program amplifies your efforts. A positive experience with an organization means today’s well-connected students will be provide the best kind of free marketing—the referral. A positive campus reputation is invaluable to sustained and successful recruitment efforts (unfortunately, that means a negative reputation is just as powerful). In fact, the platforms that many career centers are using are beginning to tap into the power of student-generated content, meaning the referrals of yesterday (small scope and based on personal relationships) will now be broad in scope and far-reaching, allowing students to be your best ambassadors—or detractors. The power of word of mouth is now amplified.

At 2,800, Towson University is expecting its largest and most diverse incoming freshman class ever. These students will be the future of our region’s economy. As campuses across Maryland and the country place a renewed emphasis on preparing students to be career ready—with experience under their belt and relevant competencies in-hand—we encourage you to dive into our pool of college-prepared talent. College and university career centers, including the Towson University Career Center and others in the region, are ready, willing and able to help you navigate these waters.

Towson University is betting we have the “right people” for your “right positions.”