Every year students and employers gather on campuses across the country to participate in the marquee career event – the Campus Career Fair (and, I should note, in pretty impressive numbers despite some saying that the career fair is on the way out).
A career fair may be a student’s first opportunity to be introduced to your brand and the opportunities that are available for someone like them to join your team – whether it is for the summer, an internship/co-op term, or even once they graduate.
They are equally a chance for you as an employer to engage potential talent, finally meet that LinkedIn Connection who looks like a stellar candidate in person, establish rapport with the campus Career Centre team, and ensure your organization is top of mind when students are pondering what comes next.
Career fairs can be a considerable investment – time, money, resources, energy – but, can be well worth it! Here are 3 tips to help you make the most of the experience:
In the same way that you would hope students have researched your company and the opportunities you have available, be sure to do some homework of your own:
These questions will help you to manage your expectations, allocate resources appropriately, and ensure your messaging is on point for the audience – particularly, how you will pitch/talk about your company in the first 30 seconds of meeting a prospective candidate.
This is crucial for hard to fill rolls, in lesser known industries or where competition for talent can be fierce. The more targeted and genuine the connection, the more likely it is that you are on track to identify the talent you are seeking.
You probably already know how unlikely it is that you will identify and hire a candidate solely based on the minute or two you connect at a career fair. But, they can be an important building block in the recruitment process.
A few suggestions to help set the tone:
These tactics complemented by doing your best to put a seemingly nervous candidate at ease; exposing an early year student to opportunities they may not yet have thought of; or rewarding genuine curiosity and interest with some extra time/feedback are all strategies to establish a strong connection with students and give them a good first taste of the candidate experience within your organization.
Remember, even if a student is seemingly not a good fit for roles you have available right now - they could be down the line… or, have friends who are.
Set clear expectations for what you would like to get out of the event and for what next steps with potential candidates will look like–applying on-line, connecting with you on LinkedIn, attending an information session/networking event, etc.
Decide how you will communicate about these next steps to potential candidates – do you have collateral like a postcard pointing them to your opportunities, a contact sheet, an iPad for you to send you a LinkedIN request etc.
Thinking these things through will help to ensure that you are getting the most from the experience. And of course, provide a few markers to temperature gauge, make adjustments and evaluate your success for future events.