Resources for designing an effective recruitment strategy that attracts the best candidates

The importance of recruitment planning cannot be underestimated for identifying needs, scheduling activities, and determining how applicants will be managed during the entire recruitment process. That’s because a recruitment program that is well-planned in advance of project execution not only creates a more positive experience for both program sponsors and applicants, but doing so also allows for a more effective analysis during project close out.

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) recruiting project managers share their expertise in the resources below. Whether you’re looking for information on how to draft effective research participation program postings, how to plan for an upcoming recruiting conference, or need to identify how to recruit a more diverse candidate pool, ORISE can help.

  • Planning to exhibit at a recruiting event can be overwhelming. With more than 70 years of experience recruiting for internships and post-graduate research programs, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) can help you plan strategically to make recruiting top students less daunting.

    Selecting an Event

    The opportunity you need to fill will dictate which recruiting event you should attend:

    • For undergraduate students, graduate students, or soon-to-be degree holders, target college career fairs.
    • An additional way to find graduate-level students and post-graduate is to attend professional association conferences.

    You need to find the right people, not just a lot of people...

    • Ensure disciplines align with program objectives.
    • Attend events that have a large number of the "right type of attendees."

    Scheduling Tips

    • Register before the early-bird deadline to save on the cost of your booth and registration.
    • Don't forget to ask for the government or non-profit rate, if it applies to your organization.
    • Always be sure to schedule information sessions in conjunction with your event for more exposure.
    • For booth placement, request the most visible and highly trafficked area (e.g., on the corner).
    • Keep in mind schools' academic calendars and avoid scheduling events during midterms, finals and holidays.

    Preparing for the Event

    • When shipping promotional materials to the event, schedule it so that your items will arrive by the deadline.
    • Be sure to check when the institution will begin receiving promotional materials so that your package isn't sent too early.
    • Remember to include your booth number and company name on the shipping labels.
    • Research and understand the academic institution's demographics before attending.
    • Memorize and rehearse your program's or company's elevator speech before the event.
    • Send email and social media blasts to potential attendees prior to the event.

    Don't forget to pack your recruiting toolkit with essential items such as snacks, water and business cards!

  • Post and pray. We all do it. At times, we are so desperate that we even make up research opportunity titles to attract that one candidate we need. You know the titles I’m referring to… GURU, ROCKSTAR, or CHALLENGE-ACCEPTER. We’re also guilty of using internal, organizational titles that don’t make sense to anyone except us (I’m looking at you SP-145-Accounts Rec). Trust me, I get it. It is hard to keep track of it all, but when posting a research participation program opportunity, there is only one thing we should consider and that is how potential candidates think. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but it works.  

    Not sure how candidates think? You have a couple of resources handy! Go to an employment website, such as or, and do a search for that position. You will get an idea of how the competition is wording their opportunities. In fact, ask your representative at the employment website you use. They have their top 100 lists of most searched titles and they are there to help you get the best return on your investment.  

    So, here is my top ten list to make sure your research participation program posting is found when you are searching for that right candidate: 

    1. Post multiple places: The average candidate today uses 16 different sources in his or her search. Distribution is key. Today you have to post on more places than just your website. Also, when utilizing employment websites ask about their distribution; where else will your posting be searchable?
    2. Position title, position title, position title! Make it simple and relevant to the candidate. If you are looking for a “Senior Manager,” then say it. Don’t use “Sr. Mgr” or “Magical Manager.” Use standard grammar and don’t get creative with the title.
    3. Keywords: Sure there is more than one way to refer to a Registered Nurse (R.N., Charge Nurse, RN, etc). Use any variations throughout your research participation program posting. It will help you rank higher for the candidates that may search using those variations.
    4. Post one-to-one: You are busy and you want to just post the lab tech position and the data visualization position in the same posting to save time. Candidates will find it, right? WRONG. One position = one posting.
    5. Be specific. Candidates often want to see every opportunity that is available in their industry so you will see candidates searching for “healthcare” and “manager.” The body of your research participation program posting is where industry titles should go. Be specific in the title, however. If you are looking for an engineer, then a candidate needs to know if you are looking for a mechanical engineer vs. a civil engineer.
    6. Be short. You know the average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds on a resume. Candidates are probably spending less time on your posting. Provide information about your organization, your culture and the opportunity; but be short and concise. Keep formatting simple (no paragraphs).
    7. Search engine marketing: So you just posted your opportunity on your website. You are excited. You go to Google and search for that position in your area and you discover that you rank on page 482. If your website is not optimized for search engines, then you will not be found. You can purchase search engine marketing services to help with this effort. If that is out of budget, check out who is on page #1 of that Google search. I bet it is an employment website! Now go re-read #1 on this list.
    8. Social media: Be on it! Make sure your opportunities are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And be ready to talk to candidates via these channels. Your potential participants are already on these platforms. Don’t believe me? Go to Twitter and do a search for #HireMe. P.S. Hashtags are very important!
    9. Employment brand: If you are investing to post your opportunity in multiple places, take advantage of the great branding opportunity it provides for your organization. Make an emotional connection. Create transparency into your culture. Share (sell) the best aspects of your organization.
    10. Who knows you best? Share a current participant testimonial. Help the candidate see themselves in your organization.
  • If you are planning to attend a recruiting event, here a few tips that will help your experience become a success!

    Booth Etiquette infographic

    Booth Etiquette: How to Conduct Yourself at a Recruiting Event (full-size PDF for download)

    Do this:

    • Arrive early. 
      It is distracting to your recruiting colleagues and disrespectful to your applicants if you are not prepared to start on time.
    • Be aware of your booth space.
      Be courteous to your recruiting neighbors by planning your displays appropriately and sharing resources, such as power cords and outlets.
    • Understand the traffic patterns for your booth.
      Be sure to keep you line of applicants within your booth space so you don't infringe upon another organization's space.
    • Meet your neighboring recruiters and understand what type of candidates they are recruiting.
      You might be able to send candidates who are not a good fit for your organization to another recruiters' table. Hopefully, he/she will reciprocate! Win-win!
    • Be professional.
      You are "on stage" the moment you drive up to the event. Make sure you are kind, welcoming, and approachable.

    Don't do this:

    • Chew gum or eat in the booth.
      Hide food and beverages out of sight.
    • Leave early.
      It is disheartening to potential applicants to see your booth empty during event hours.
    • Be derogatory about any other organization, recruiter, or candidate.
      You need to be genuine about why your organization is a wonderful fit for your candidate, but never bash the competition. You never know when they may become your collaborator!
    • Forget to say 'thank you' to the event sponsor.
      This event is an opportunity for you to recruit fabulous talent; show appreciation for the planners that facilitate the event by saying 'thank you' and completing their post-event survey.