For a college student, entering a College Career Fair venue is like walking into a cafeteria. Both facilities are crammed with decisions, persuasion and the uncertainty of what to choose or where to turn next. Sure, students have to do some impressing, but at College Career Fairs, companies are the ones who possess the task of attracting top talent. Students and representatives from companies both play eminent roles in the career fair game. Students have to take off their sweats, conjure up a resume and bring their A-game to prove they are worth a closer look. Companies on the other hand need to stand out amongst a crowd and portray themselves as the entrée students wait in line for.
When I was jotting down ideas to put in this post, I brought myself back to 2007 when I attended my first College Career Fair. I evaluated what made a booth catch my attention versus those I walked past. The best place for a company to start is designing their own promotional strategy prior to the event. Typically, a College Career Center will send a mass email with information on the event with a list of attending companies to all juniors and seniors. Companies should take their endorsement one step further and reach out to the students themselves through various social media outlets. I would have found it exponentially beneficial to have been contacted via Facebook with a message containing information on the company, open positions and even a “Day in the Life of Our Employees” video. Not only would this have encouraged me to research the organization and prepare myself for a conversation, in my mind it would have distinguished the company as a cut above.
The employees representing your company are the most powerful tool to a successful College Career Fair. These people are the faces of your company and the ones who are showcasing your best assets. Statistics have shown a student is more likely to visit a booth with a forthcoming representative rather than one occupied by an intimidating dictator-eque CEO. Choose an employee who is engaging and charismatic with a personality 21 year olds wouldn’t mind opening up to. It is difficult to gauge a student’s true value from a 3 minute conversation, but with the right person, it is easy to take a lot away from a quick chat.
Giveaways. Who doesn’t love them? People will rarely walk away from candy, a keychain or even a cheap pen with a company logo plastered on its casing. Get creative with your handouts to catch the attention of people passing by. At one of the career fairs I attended, Anheuser Busch gave away colorful plastic necklaces featuring a beer bottle charm that lit up. I didn’t have much interest in moving to St. Louis and working for a beer company, but the handout not only made me smile, it persuaded me to take another look at what they were offering. Will I ever wear that necklace again? Probably not. However, that handout achieved exactly what it was set out to do – it drew me into the booth and added another resume to Anheuser’s existing stack.
Lastly, it’s not always how you start the game but instead, it’s how you finish. Follow up with each student who visited your booth with an email, a subscription to your newsletter or hopefully even an invitation for an interview. Build a social media community with these students by sending an invite to your company’s Career Facebook Page. Take a look at the Facebook Career Page my company, JCSI, developed...
This not only guarantees to leave a positive perception of your company in the minds of the students, it builds a following for your company, which goes a long way in our world where networking and word of mouth is as valuable as a college degree.
College Career Fairs are a whirlwind of nerves, curiosity and an invaluable networking tool to help companies recruit young talent. Take pride in your company and exhibit the best it has to offer to students who use powerful social media tools as their primary means of communication.
What has helped your company stand out at College Career Fairs? Share your tips and stories here.