07/12/2017  //  By tracy kelly  //  Campus Recruiting

Between identifying campus events that pay off for your team, promoting attendance to the right student audience and selecting business representatives who will provide a positive candidate experience, career fairs can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned recruiting departments. Check these items off your list this summer, to prepare for a successful recruitment season this fall.

Set career fair goals

Not only do fairs require time away from the office, but expenses like travel costs, promotional materials and booth rentals add up quickly. Set defined goals early on to help your team make the most of every career fair. Is your goal to hire a specific number of entry-level or internship positions? Build your brand among student groups? Educate college students about your company to build your pipeline for future openings? Identify objectives to drive the career fair strategy and maximize ROI for every event.

Evaluate campus relationships

Do established relationships with career centers and on-campus organizations bring you back to the same schools each fall? If a university no longer offers a major you’re recruiting or didn’t result in high-quality hires last year, it may not be worthwhile to invest time and resources at that campus.

Instead of routinely recruiting at familiar universities, evaluate campus partnerships to find out which result in ROI for your organization. Use campus recruiting software to track every university partnership and identify campuses that produce quality hires. Register for career fairs at universities that contribute to campus hiring goals, and consider foregoing career fairs that don’t generate ROI. Letting go of long-term, but ineffective university partnerships can be difficult, but is essential to meeting career fair goals.

Pick business representatives

Business representatives are often the first people to greet a candidate and introduce them to your company, so choose people who will boost student excitement about your organization. The business representatives you choose should be knowledgeable about current positions, passionate about the organization, and enthusiastic and outgoing. Select representatives who have a vested interested in attracting qualified candidates; if a campus hiring goal is to recruit entry-level engineers, bring current engineers to the fair. Alumni of the college and entry-level team members may also be good fits for the career fair.

Advertise your career fair presence

You wouldn’t host a recruitment event without marketing it and inviting high-potential candidates. The same should be true for your career fair booth. If you rely on word-of-mouth or show up and cross your fingers, your competition may already be scheduling on-campus interviews.

Leverage recruiting software to market the career fair and encourage pre-registration. Share sign-up links on social media and create a section on your careers site to allow interested candidates to register and upload resumes. Send email campaigns to high-potential students you met last year and ask the career center to include a sign-up link in student emails. Promote the career fair before the event to review resumes and vet candidates, and advance students through the hiring process before the competition arrives on campus.

Create compelling promotional materials

Between your company website, third-party review sites and social media, candidates may know a lot about your organization before the event. Use the career fair to own the narrative and share information that students can’t easily find online. Consider loading tablets with photos from company events, or play Q+A videos with employees to provide candidates a view inside your company. When creating promotional materials, tailor them to the majors you’re recruiting. If you’re hiring sales roles, create materials demonstrating the career path entry-level sales professionals take at your company. For marketing majors, show examples of creative campaigns the department recently completed.

Plan for career fair logistics

There’s a lot to remember to pack for career fairs: booth decorations, giveaways, name tags, business cards, tablets and more. Prior to the career fair, find out shipment deadlines for every event you plan to attend; many designate specific times deliveries should arrive. Use campus recruiting software to make a list of all collateral needed at the career fair, which every team member can access and update. Create a day-of plan and detailed timeline of material drop-off and pick up, booth set-up and breakdown, team member responsibilities and shifts for business attendees.

Train business attendees

The first day of a hiring event can be chaotic, so designate time to train all attendees before leaving the office. Communicate career fair goals and metrics you hope to hit by the end of the event to ensure everyone understands what to work towards. Provide a timeline of the day’s responsibilities, and review common candidate questions and suggested responses. Train business attendees on your recruiting software, including how to evaluate a candidate and schedule interviews with high-potential students on-the-spot. Create a mock career fair for business attendees to use the technology and practice evaluating and scheduling candidates before arriving on campus.

Create a post-career fair communication plan

Waiting to follow up with candidates until weeks after the career fair gives a competitor time to extend an offer. Before the hiring event, create a post-event communication plan. Use talent relationship management software to send an email to every candidate you met and thank them for visiting the booth, encourage high-potential candidates to self-schedule an interview and if a candidate needs more experience, add them to your talent community to keep them engaged until they are ready for a position with your company. Advance candidates through the hiring process quickly after the career fair to hire top talent, and meet career fair goals.

Career fairs are an opportunity for hundreds of candidates to interact with your brand, learn about the organization and make personal connections. Prepare for the career fair in advance, to leave every event with a pipeline of high-quality potential employees.

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