Tech Forum: 10 Marketing Ideas to Identify and Attract Trade School Students

Brian Fraley


Most firms in the trenchless technology industry are starving for quality workers, but many aren’t fully capitalizing on the greatest source of talent…trade schools. This is an employee-driven market, which means you need to promote your firm as an employer of choice.

The following are some marketing-related ideas to make sure you stay front of mind and attract the cream of the crop trade school graduates when they hit the job market.

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1. Keep Them Posted When You’re Hiring

Never assume that a trade school knows you’re hiring even if the economy is soaring and you’re a local juggernaut with thousands of employees. Make sure they always know what kind of positions you’re looking to fill through your website, email, or even a phone call.

2. Keep Your Website Careers Page Updated

Always keep the Careers page on your website updated with current openings. This is the first place a trade school employee or student is likely to search for job openings. Even if you have no specific openings or lack the time to post them as they arise, add some generic language about your ongoing need for project managers, equipment operators, etc.

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3. Connect on Social Media

Make sure to follow the trade schools you recruit from on social media. For one, it allows you to keep up to speed with current news and events. It also gives you a chance to identify rising stars. Trade schools that are active on social media typically share student victories, i.e. awards, special projects, advertising opportunities, upcoming events, etc.

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4. Seek Out Advertising Opportunities

Find out where you can advertise to capture the attention of the school’s students. Most will offer advertising space through a magazine, newsletter, or website banner. Remember, you’re not pursuing work, so modify your advertising to promote the benefits of working for your company.

5. Share Your Knowledge

Find out how you can share your knowledge with the students. That might be a guest article or a speaking opportunity. A guest article will help to attract interest online, but a speaking opportunity gives you an opportunity to network with the students in person.

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6. Sponsor Events

Most trade schools welcome the opportunity to subsidize their events through sponsorships. Getting your name and logo in front of students over time will help to form the perception that your company is always on the lookout for talent. And make sure a representative attends events to improve your results.

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7. Support Career Fairs

Career fairs are usually the main event for trade schools. Better yet, students are often seeking jobs or doing some reconnaissance on future employers. Exhibiting will give you face time with the employees and an opportunity to expose them to your brand. You might also consider a sponsorship to build good will with the school and also give your firm added name recognition with students. Modifying graphics and marketing collateral to target students instead of prospects can get costly, but you should at least put out some literature that explains the benefits of working at your company.

8. Donate Money, Time, Equipment, Etc.

Making a donation is an obvious one. Most trade schools will welcome a donation and respond in kind by displaying a list of donors. You might not need to write a check since some schools might prefer volunteers or equipment. This creates good will with the school and its students and reinforces your name recognition. If the school is set up as a 501 (c) (3), your donation will be tax deductible.

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9. Serve on a Board or Committee

Many a smart construction executive has served on a board of directors or some other committee at a local trade school. Doing so allows one to monitor and potentially hire up and comers. It also shows good will to the school since you’re donating time and sharing your industry knowledge for the good of the school.

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10. Stay on Top of News

Most trade schools have a magazine, or at least a newsletter. Make sure to subscribe and attempt to stay current. It doesn’t hurt to keep tabs on its media coverage by setting up a Google Alert. This is a failsafe to make sure you don’t miss important events, opportunities, and news on promising students.

Mutually Beneficial Trade School Partnerships

Trade schools are looking to get students placed with premier construction companies and you need qualified labor so the mutual benefit is obvious. More importantly, bringing the best talent to the industry is a mission that both parties share.

There are already some strong partnerships between trade schools, construction companies, trade associations, and the industry as a whole. These 10 tips will ensure your company doesn’t miss an opportunity to identify and attract the top students.

Brian M. Fraley is the owner and chief strategist for Fraley Construction Marketing, a marketing communications consultancy with a unique 100 percent focus and deep understanding of the construction industry.

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