The eager graduates who walk across a stage in cap and gown this month will hear the same question over and over from friends and relatives: “Have you found a job yet?” Those who are lucky enough to already have a job lined up may have found employment through companies that recruit on campus. As any college student or alumnus can attest, on-campus recruitment plays a central role in launching many post-graduation careers. By maximizing hiring efficiency for entry-level positions for college graduates, campus recruitment benefits not just students, but also, employers, colleges, and universities.
And yet, this pillar of our labor market has recently come under fire. Why? Some claim campus recruiting discriminates against older job applicants.
Fortunately, the courts have, so far, upheld the legality of campus recruiting. For the sake of students (both young and old), businesses, government, and the economy as a whole, I hope that view continues to prevail. The reality is that on-campus recruiting is not discriminatory and there really is no substitute for its efficiencies and effectiveness.
To start with, where else can you find a pool of hundreds or thousands of qualified jobseekers? Access to that talent pool allows employers numerous benefits. To name a few:
Each year, an impressive range of prospective employers recruit on college campuses: consulting firms, technology companies, governmental entities, public interest groups … the list goes on and on. A 2016 survey found that nearly 98 percent of firms who responded conducted on-campus recruiting. I’m thrilled that students have a vast array of paths to consider and pursue as they take that first step toward building their career — whether it’s in crop production, finance, the public sector, or something else entirely.
It’s hard to overstate how significant the impact on hiring practices would be if courts were to change course and limit prospective employers’ ability to recruit current students or recent graduates — on-campus or elsewhere. Just look at the federal government, which through the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). To name just a few examples of the government’s recruitment of students and recent graduates:
Significantly, campus recruitment in no way excludes older applicants. Universities enroll both young and old students. According to government data, more than 13 percent of all graduates from American campuses were over the age of 40 for the 2014-2015 academic year. That’s more than 625,000 older students, who were able to take advantage of on-campus recruiting. [Note: these figures include graduate and undergraduate degree recipients, including awards of less than one academic year]. Many older students start college or graduate school after serving in the military, working, or starting a family. These students often enter school with a clear sense of their post-graduation career goals, and they are among those who benefit extensively from on-campus recruitment opportunities.
In short, on-campus recruitment is efficient, beneficial, and non-discriminatory. It should be here to stay.
George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.