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Inbound Recruiting for Business Schools: attracting and converting the best students

"We put a lot of resources into it! We're really fighting!" says Bernard Ramanantsoa (former director of HEC Paris), when he describes his prestigious school's strategy to attract talent and fill upcoming classes.

For it is now a fact that even France's top Grandes Ecoles must invest to attract the best students.

For it is now a fact: even the most prestigious French Grandes Ecoles must invest to seduce the best students.

Thanks to Inbound Recruiting, they can do it more efficiently and cheaper!

1 - The race to differentiate between Grandes Ecoles

Now internationalized, the Grandes Ecoles are competing with each other in a globalized education market.

The actors and resources of this market (professors, students, ideas, content, etc.) are extremely mobile and circulate at a speed never before seen in history.

In addition to international competition, there are also national challenges (and even competition between schools in the same industry). This competition now has many faces, and each school is struggling to make its voice heard and remain attractive.

Formation IA et Recrutement

This situation is pushing institutions to double their imagination to attract the best candidates.

As we have seen previously, by allowing a precise targeting of your "student prospects" and a timely guidance in their decision process, Inbound Recruiting presents itself as the adequate solution to combine efficiency and quality of recruitment.

Grandes Ecoles compete in a globalized education marketCompetition between Grandes Ecoles can be ruthless

To rise to the top of international rankings, campuses must not only attract applicants but above all seduce and select the best.

"It is easy to find 1,000 soldiers but it is difficult to find a general!" (Chinese proverb)

The number of students is growing significantly. At the start of the 2015 academic year, more than 2 million young people were enrolled in French higher education, i.e. almost 80,000 more than the previous year (+3.2%)

In addition, there is the increased mobility of students. More and more of them are studying away from their home countries. For example, students from Asia and the Middle East will be 7.2 million in 2025 to study abroad according to UNESCO.

For you, these facts directly result in more demanding students. Yet it is precisely these demanding students that you are seeking to attract.

These are the very students you are seeking to attract.

How to do this?

Students are more demanding on the trainings you offerShowcase the plurality and quality of your trainings

2 - Inbound Recruiting for Grandes Ecoles (and universities)

The challenge for Grandes Ecoles development managers is to recruit the best students.

When they are considering which institution to train at, chances are they will search on their favorite engine (in this case Google in 93% of cases in France).

All the magic of Inbound Recruiting lies in your ability to deliver the content that will influence their decision.

The methodology of l'Inbound Recruiting for Grandes Ecoles is articulated in four steps:

The Four Stages of Inbound Recruiting for Great SchoolsThe Four Stages of Inbound Recruiting for Great Schools

- The attraction stage: by producing optimized quality content and sharing it on social networks, you increase traffic to your school's website. Example "What salary will you have after engineering school?"

- The conversion step: by providing a free offer such as access to a MOOC or course materials, you are retrieving contact data from the student. Example "Download our free white paper: 5 useful robots to build yourself".

- The engagement stage: you send him/her useful and/or fun information on a regular basis. Example: an email with the title "Martin, understand blockchain in an infographic!". Using Marketing Automation allows you to send targeted and contextualized messages to increase that engagement until the student makes the decision to join your school.

- The optimization stage: using the information gathered in the previous phases, you continually improve the process until your students are enchanted and will promote your institution themselves. These brand ambassadors are called "alumni."

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3 - Content to attract students and prove your expertise

Creating relevant content doesn't just happen.

You must first establish your "Candidate Personas" (the concept of "Buyers Personas" applied to recruiting), a sort of sketch of the "ideal" student for your school.

This essential work will allow you to know the interests of the students you are targeting.

For example, offering blog posts like "Why should code be taught in a business school?" or "Engineering schools: it's now time for artificial intelligence" will attract students who are ready to accompany your institution in these turning points.

In addition, producing quality content confirms the expertise of your institution. "With good teachers, you contribute to the manufacture of knowledge. Yet there are two types of schools: those that create knowledge and those that reproduce it" says Bernard Ramanantsoa.

With the emergence of online training and MOOCs (massive open online course), we are now talking about a "knowledge battle."

This battle is elevated to a decisive strategic issue. Singapore Management University is one of the pioneers in this area with its Intelligence Lab ("Home for talent").

Beyond the "generalist" informational content, you can also direct the angle towards the specificity of your institution by proposing, for example, testimonials from former students. More ambitious but very effective: showcase your campus through a virtual tour.

Think about systematically adding a "call-to-action" offering an in-person visit in exchange for the student's contact information.

4 - Turn your students into School Ambassadors 

Use your alumni in your Inbound Recruiting for Grandes EcolesUse your alumni in your Inbound Recruiting strategy

Your school's alumni are a valuable source for your Inbound Recruiting.

Your school's alumni are a valuable source for your Inbound Recruiting.

Using alumni experience brings more authenticity than any other line of communication, as long as those stories are unfiltered.

If, for example, your student residence leaves something to be desired, don't deprive your ambassadors of saying so in a humorous tone. For example, the boarding school of Kedge Bordeaux bears the inglorious name of Alcatraz, in reference to the San Francisco prison, and the alumni don't hesitate to make fun of it... the better to highlight the quality of the training!

5 - How to implement Inbound Recruiting in your Grande Ecole?

To achieve successful results, Inbound Recruiting requires skills and rigor.

Thus, the publication rhythm must be sustained enough to keep the interest of students and give more visibility to your Grande Ecole.

It is possible (and even recommended) to rely on the work of your students and teachers, but conducting an Inbound Recruiting project requires coordination and method.

To get up and running quickly on this topic, don't hesitate to call on a specialized agency!

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Topics: Inbound Recruiting, Grandes Ecoles, Universités, Education