• Career Fair Best Practices: Part 2

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    October 2, 2013

    What can you do to help ensure the success of your career fairs? Your colleagues share some of their best practices:

    • Gwen Miller, associate director of the office of career services at Lebanon Valley College, says the college's discipline-specific career days have proven to be very effective for both students and employers, and they bring strong support from faculty.

    "Lebanon Valley College is involved in the planning and implementation of several consortium career fairs that take place off campus," explains Gwen Miller, associate director of the office of career services. "The discipline-specific days are in addition to those and are an answer to limited space, demand, or interest from students and employers, and support from faculty."

    Each discipline-specific day is done in close collaboration with faculty members so they can help career services promote the events in their classes, support event prep sessions, provide career services with new contacts for invitations, and more.

    "We discuss [with faculty] the need for the event, combine our lists of employers and contacts, and then have their input on the invitations and approximate time of year for the event," Miller notes. "It's much more effective for our office to run with it when we know that there is already buy-in. We also want them to come. Our faculty members enjoy attending the event to welcome employers and encourage students who have last-minute jitters.That's so helpful to us, and meaningful to employers and students."

    Career services also contacts student groups for support in promoting and helping the day of the events.

    "We try to have students involved in making each event a success by asking for volunteers to help greet employers, unload their materials, and get them settled at their tables," Miller says. "It's a great way to help students interact with employers professionally, before the event starts."

    Another key component to the success of the events is planning them far in advance.

    Says Miller: "I'm already looking at my calendar for next year. We try to stay consistent with the time of year, time of event, and more, and send 'save the date' notices far in advance so that it's on everyone's calendar. It's the attention to detail and a customer-service attitude that we take toward employers that make these days a success."

    • Last year, Johnson & Wales Universitycareer services office staff members started serving as "aisle hosts" during career fairs. The aisle hosts greet the employers in their assigned aisles, help them set up, answer questions, make copies, provide water, and more.

    "Most importantly, the aisle hosts were able to guide students who needed help and connect them with the employers that best fit their interests," explains Sheri Ispir, director of experiential education and career services. "We identified [the aisle hosts] with stickers, so it was low cost and a big return in terms of employer satisfaction."

    The career services office also uses stickers to help employers identify "graduating students" and "internship students," which helps employers and students connect more easily, and holds pre-fair tours for international students.

    "We invite our international students to come 45 minutes before the expo floor opens and a staff member escorts the group through the aisle giving tips on how to navigate the event, as well as answering questions about specific employers," Ispir says. "This gives our international students more confidence and know-how on leveraging this networking opportunity."