• Tips for Maximizing Your Career Fair Success

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
    September 18, 2013

    Career fairs can provide an excellent opportunity for your organization to begin building personal relationships with students who might become your future employees. Following are several strategies to use in your career fair planning and approach:

    • Make the most of your time on campus—Schedule activities around the career fair, such as hosting faculty roundtables or dinners; visiting the career services office to discuss student trends and preferences, and to provide updates about your organization and industry; instructing a class or workshop for students; or speaking to a student organization.
    • Know your audience—Discussions with career services practitioners and faculty should yield information about student desires and preferences. Customize your approach to each campus based on student preferences at each school, and have your recruiters share both how your company can benefit the student and how the student can benefit the company.
    • Pick the right people—The behavior of career fair reps is as important as their knowledge about the company and career opportunities. When selecting your team, choose team members who are friendly and enthusiastic, and who have a passion for what they do and an interest in building relationships with students. Also, be sure to have your organization's diverse range of culture, age, and gender reflected in the recruiters at your booth.
    • Enlist the help of campus advocates—Ask your interns who are back on campus, career services professionals, professors, and student organizations to spread the word about your organization. Have university alumni conduct a classroom talk for some of their former professors to apprise them of developments in the company and industry, and offer insight into your culture. Many questions are best answered by employees who have traveled the same career path the students are pursuing.
    • Prepare for the fair—Career fair teams should be assembled and oriented at least several weeks prior to the event. This gives team members time to prepare for the fair, but also to contact students ahead of time or visit faculty while on campus. Make sure recruiters and employees assisting at career fairs know which positions are available, which skills and qualifications the company seeks in candidates, and the company's hiring goals.
    • Focus on meeting student needs—Because the primary reason that students attend career fairs is to learn about job opportunities, employers should focus their efforts on meeting those needs. Students expect to be treated with respect during the event. This means there should be no cell phone calls by your recruiters while at the booth, and no blowing off students by sending them to your organization's website for information or to submit a resume. Get students' contact information so that you can continue the dialogue. Don't just recruit them, but ask their opinions, offer relevant advice, and more.
    • Make a break from the typical-Make your organization memorable during the career fair. Offer a five-minute massage to students or offer a $15 gift card for any student who comes to your booth wearing your company's logo. Instead of offering giveaways, ask students to write down their favorite charities and conduct a drawing at regular intervals throughout the fair and announce the winning charity. Then make donations to the winning students' charities in their name and send them an acknowledgement.
    • Be prepared to follow-up, then do so—While the impression is still fresh, categorize your candidates into groups as the career fair ends: best matches, possible matches, and no matches. Although every candidate should be viewed as a potential customer or future client, differentiate your follow-up according to the groupings. During the career fair, your recruiters should schedule interviews with the candidates they see as potential matches for open positions and meet with them on campus the next day. Send a "thank you" e-mail to everyone else who stopped by your booth and left their resumes. You've got a great opportunity to reinforce a first impression.