• Career Fair Best Practices: Part 3

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    October 16, 2013

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

    • The career center at Illinois State University encourages freshman and sophomores to attend its career fairs to help them become familiar with the event. However, career fairs can be intimidating for these and other students.

      “To minimize students’ discomfort, we hold career fair tours, which have been extremely popular with students who are interested in learning more about career fairs without feeling the pressure of going alone for the first time,” says Maureen Roach, the career center’s senior assistant director.

      Available to all students, the 20-minute guided tour takes place during the career fair and helps students see firsthand how students are dressed for the career fair, how employers interact with candidates, and more, while in the company of a career center tour guide.

      “The tours help students lose their career fair jitters and feel more comfortable and confident when it comes time to actually attend a career fair to obtain an internship or a job,” Roach says. “As an added bonus, some faculty members give extra credit to students who participate.”

    • Merrimack College has stopped holding its annual career fair, opting instead to offer only boutique career fairs, employer lunch-and-learns, and an employer-in-residence program.

      “These efforts have increased not only student participation in recruiting, but also employer participation,” says Heather Maietta, associate vice president, career and corporate engagement at Merrimack College’s O'Brien Center for Student Success. “Additionally, it has tremendously increased faculty participation and confidence in our center as a whole.”

      Students are required to attend recruiting events on campus (their choice aligned with their major) as part of selected academic classes through Merrimack’s Career Passport program.

      “We have also created initiatives for first-generation college students and for undeclared students,” Maietta notes. “As a cohort model of engagement for each of these initiatives, peers attend campus events together.”

    • Last spring, the career services office at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne hired a professional photographer and offered its students and alumni the opportunity to have free LinkedIn profile pictures taken the day of the career fair.

      “The students are dressed up, so we are taking advantage of that fact and encouraging them to ‘get connected’ on LinkedIn,” says Ashley Calderon, director of career services. “It all starts with the professional picture, and that is a student need.”

      In addition, during breakfast the day of the fall job fair, the career services office had a speaker talk to recruiters about how to use LinkedIn to recruit candidates.