Employers Cite Internships as Recruiting Strategy With Highest ROI; Strongly Prefer In-person Career Fairs

January 9, 2023 | By Kevin Gray

An employer works with a group of interns.

TAGS: career development, Internships, nace insights, recruiting, surveys, talent acquisition, technology, trends and predictions,

Employers overwhelmingly believe hosting internships is the recruiting strategy that yields the highest return on investment (ROI) leading to entry-level hires, according to preliminary results of NACE’s Winter 2022 Quick Poll On Spring Recruiting And Career Services. The poll is open until January 15, 2023.

As of January 6, nearly 85% of responding employers indicated internships are the top recruiting method for their investment of time and money, far ahead of career fairs (9%), on-campus visits (3%), and participating in campus panels (3%).

Employers also have strong impressions of the ROI of in-person career fairs versus virtual career fairs. Preliminary quick poll results show that two-thirds of responding employers find the ROI of in-person career fairs to be somewhat or extremely good. On the other hand, nearly the same percentage of respondents (62%) perceive the ROI of virtual career fairs to be somewhat or extremely bad.

This preference in the modality of career fairs is reflected in the career fairs that career centers plan to hold this winter and spring. While 84% of responding colleges plan to hold career fairs, just 16% of these events will be held virtually at this point in the poll, although career centers anticipate facilitating other career services and recruiting activities—such as career coaching/counseling (96%) and interviewing (67%)—in a hybrid modality.

To facilitate planning and benchmarking for both employers and career centers, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is conducting a quick poll that examines how employers are planning for internships and recruitment, and ways that may have shifted over time. The polls run December 12, 2022, through January 15, 2023; results are offered in real time. The results of this quick poll will be the focus of NACE’s Town Hall on Student Engagement: Are You Prepared For 2023? that will be held on January 31.