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This piece is the first in our "Campus Recruiting 101" series covering how HR professionals can make the most of their campus recruiting efforts this year.

With the school year right around the corner, it's time to get serious about your campus recruiting strategy. Colleges are full of talented and ambitious students—a 2016 AfterCollege Career Insights Survey found 78 percent of college seniors had their job lined up before graduating. To make sure you engage the best talent, your efforts need to be deliberate, attract a diverse set of students and convince them that your company is an ideal place to start their careers.

Here are a few tips that should get you on the right track come fall semester.

1) Communicate Company Culture and Purpose

Collegefeed poll of 15,000 college students and recent graduates found that millennials favor people and culture fit above all else when comparing employers. In order to appeal to millenials, build messaging channels—both online and offline—that clearly and consistently communicate your company culture and why people like to work there.

For example, an applicant may first learn about your company through a job description on their school's job board. If you make it easy for them to watch a short, entertaining video that profiles a few employees, you'll give them a window into your company's work environment. A few days later, when the job fair or information session rolls around, you can cap off your messaging with a memorable face-to-face interaction.

2) Sponsor a Hackathon

Seventy-seven percent of CEOs see the availability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business. What better way to find highly skilled students than hosting a competition as part of your campus recruiting program that puts their skills to the test?

When you sponsor a hackathon like MHacks, you not only identify top talent, but also teach applicants skills that can help them succeed at your company, such as collaboration or a new programming language. Competitions create a platform for on-the-spot interviews, removing steps from the hiring process, and attract students who are bold, creative, and hard-working. After a few years, you'll develop a reputation as a fun and challenging employer, and solidify your brand on campus.

3) Build Relationships

Strong relationships are key to improving your campus recruiting program and building your talent pipeline.

Bring your top-performing local school grads to campus events to help bridge the gap between your company and current students. Recent grads have existing networks that you can scout for talent, and as successful employees, they give applicants a sense of what they can accomplish if they come to work for you.

Extend your outreach beyond the career fair booths as well. Get to know a professor from, say, the computer science department, then have that department host an information session. Or, if you identify a student group whose purpose aligns with your company goals, have its members spread the word about your visit. Students and professors love to see their efforts play out in the real world, so they'll appreciate the chance to contribute to your hiring process.

While efforts across social media and mobile platforms certainly improve the campus recruiting process, real conversations leave the deepest impressions. By forming human connections, you'll be well on your way to building a sturdy and productive campus talent pipeline.

Photo: Twenty20