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Higher Education marketing for companies: How to reach young talent

13/02/2023 2023/02

Young talents are the leaders of tomorrow. Reaching them, however, is a challenge that companies must face more consciously today than in the past. As competition for young talent increases, so does the need to develop a strong brand strategy for one's own employer brand that resonates with the target group. To be successful, companies need to understand the needs and desires of graduates, which now consist almost exclusively of the GenZ target group, and develop a tailored strategy that reflects them.

What is Higher Education marketing for companies?

Higher Education Marketing as a form of personnel marketing is intended to position companies as attractive employers for graduates and to retain them in the long term. It should not be confused with the marketing measures of a university to attract new students.

Advantages of higher education marketing

Finding the right young people for your company can be a challenge. It is already a reality that more and more young people are studying and fewer (want to) complete vocational training. This trend towards academisation also continued in 2021. The number of students is stagnating at a high level with approximately 3 million students enrolled at German universities and colleges. Similarly, the number of young people undergoing dual vocational training fell again by 3 percent - to 1.3 million. This development can be partly explained against the backdrop of demographic change, as the number of 15-24 year-olds fell by six percent in the same period. For companies, this means that student target groups are becoming larger and more interesting. At the same time, the competition for well-qualified junior staff continues to increase. Those who can acquire and retain young talent at an early stage have a decisive competitive advantage.

Understanding the needs of young talents and reaching them in a targeted way

Graduates and students are part of generations Y, Z and Alpha. As digital natives, they have grown up in a globalised and networked world. The internet has always been part of their everyday life, both for entertainment and information purposes. A supporting pillar in the Higher Education of companies is a search engine-optimised career website with your vacancies and benefits.

Due to the high online affinity of the target group, it is essential for companies to include social media recruitment in their strategy as part of successful university marketing. On the one hand, you can use your company presence to inform graduates about your employer brand and publish advertisements for internships and student jobs as well as useful content for students. On the other hand, you can place paid ads in social media. A big advantage here is the precise targeting. In order to find the right young professionals for you and your company, you have a few options to choose from. For example, when addressing students, you can filter by university, faculty or degree programme. In addition, you should also use geotargeting - the selection of the target group in a defined regional radius (e.g. by place of residence). Finally, intelligent ad targeting also includes playing ads based on interests and behaviours. This allows you to define your target group specifically, find them faster and deliver your ads precisely, without wastage.

Although the target group of students can be found and reached predominantly online, analogue formats are still a useful addition to university marketing for companies. Students continue to obtain information through print media such as university newspapers and various student magazines, which are distributed free of charge on campus. Areas around refectories, libraries, student residences and sports and leisure facilities are often perfect for posters and banners. Direct contact with students and graduates, for example at fairs and events, will also remain important in the future.


a group of students in a building, walking and talking
Pandemic increases digitalisation, indispensable are video conferences
Pandemic increases digitalisation, indispensable are video conferences

The right strategy for successful higher education marketing

A strategic marketing plan is crucial for university marketing. We have compiled some tips to keep in mind to stay ahead of the competition.

Know deadlines and dates

In relation to your Higher Education marketing goals, an important aspect is to consider existing deadlines and dates in your milestone planning. Does your company have trainee programmes or working student positions with specific application deadlines? If so, the measures must be coordinated with them in terms of timing. It is also important to take into account the respective dates for semester breaks at the universities relevant to the target group. Poster advertising outside the lecture period makes little sense. Searching for graduates shortly before the time for final theses begins is often not very effective. Early planning and preparation of the individual steps is therefore essential.

Select target group

Universities and colleges are usually divided into faculties and departments. This has the advantage that you can select exactly the right degree programmes for your open positions and programmes. This means, for example, that you can target not only all prospective engineers, but also all future Bachelor of Science students in mechanical engineering. HR agencies such as ARTS can help you determine which degree programme is the right one for your junior positions, as well as in approaching and communicating with the universities and colleges or distributing advertising materials on site. In some cases, for example, it is also possible to address them via mailings. The possibilities are endless.

Measuring success

Of course you want to know whether your efforts are bearing fruit. This can be measured very well through online activities such as social media campaigns. It is more difficult to assess whether posters and billboards really work. One way is to ask applicants :inside how they became aware of your company.

Stay in touch

You should think of university marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. One-off measures may make a difference, but will not lead to success in the long run.


Companies that want to grow are dependent on a steady supply of young talent and cannot do without university marketing. Even if it costs time and money, it is worthwhile to bring top talent into the company as quickly as possible. Some bring the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow. As with all marketing tools, your company must be willing to experiment. As a personnel marketing specialist, ARTS has many years of experience in Higher Education marketing. We will work with you to develop a suitable university marketing concept and help you to implement it sustainably. Thanks to our extensive team of experts, we have a wide range of instruments and know-how at our disposal.

About the Author
Maria Rascher
Service Owner HR Marketing

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