Dear recruiter,

If you aren’t headhunting University students, you’re missing out!

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a university student and would love for some of the big name companies to headhunt me, or because I’ve been listening to the autobiography of Elon Musk and heard about his recruiting tactics, that I felt an urge to write about this.

When sourcing the best, young engineers for SpaceX, Elon Musk contacts teaching assistants or college administrators to ask for the details of engineers with good results and a passion for building things outside of their academic work. On several occasions, he offered jobs within weeks of first hearing a student’s name.

Why? Because university students are unique…

1 – They can be moulded

A student with little experience is not yet ‘set in their ways’, they can’t use the phrase “oh, we’ve always done it like that”, because they have never done it.

This was appealing for Musk in a unique aerospace company that was breaking all the rules. A new recruit wasn’t aware of the rules and so had no concerns breaking them. He could influence their style of work to suit him – this was more valuable than years under their belt in his opinion.

2 – They aren’t tied down

No house, family, only some (student) debt, and freedom to move. It’s a lot easier to hire and move new graduates than it is to ask a recruit from another company to move homes with their family to join your company.

3 – They have lots of energy (most of the time)

The right students will work tirelessly. Maybe longer hours, maybe multiple jobs. They want to prove themselves and will do everything they can to prove it.

This might pose the issues that it can be harder to keep young recruits entertained, but if your company is good enough and the role is flexible, that problem will solve itself.

4 – You might not get a second chance

You can build loyalty by showing faith and providing an opportunity. Whether you want to hire to retire or just utilise young recruits for their creativity whilst they’re fresh, if you miss your chance to get yourself known, it may not come back around.


Of course, in many cases, there is no substitute for experience, but if you’re looking for people to work hard and bring in new ideas, you’ll find those people in University. But don’t always expect them to come to you, you need to go to them.