How to Make Sure Students Show Up at Your Next Career Fair3 min read

May 13, 2019 Campus Recruiting

How do you make sure top student talent shows up at your career fair? Here’s some advice.


The career fair has evolved, along with the campus recruiting landscape as a whole. Yet recruiting teams still struggle to ensure recruitment events are a worthwhile investment. Some college career center directors report record numbers at their fairs, while others lament a downward trend in student attendance. Either way, when your team shows up at a career fair, you want to be sure students show up, too. Here’s how:

Find your niche

Many universities have moved away from a single, giant career fair to smaller, specialized fairs focused on specific majors. These career fairs are beneficial for employers because students are more likely to attend when they know the employers value their skill set and are looking for candidates like them. When you’re setting your career fair calendar, look for the engineering fair or the nursing fair—and get ready to hire.

Let students pre-register

If you can advance talent through the hiring pipeline pre-event, you’ll be able to extend offers by the end of the fair. Before each career fair, send pre-registration forms to candidates so that you can identify top prospects who plan to attend before they even step into the room.

Knowing your company will be in attendance can help build pre-event buzz among students. And when the big day comes, pre-registration helps streamline check-in and facilitates interview scheduling. After the fall recruiting season, review how many students pre-registered for your events, and challenge your team to improve those numbers in the spring.

Text candidates

Communicating with students prior to the career fair is a great way to let them know what to expect and increase your chances of healthy attendance. But it’s important to speak their language and reach them where they already spend their time—that means text recruiting.

Send candidates emails to introduce your company and follow up with a personalized text message inviting students to pre-register and self-schedule their career fair interviews. Make it easy for them, and they’ll be excited to meet you in-person.

Get personal

Campus recruiting consultant Mary Scott coined an acronym for a career fair practice she hates: GTW (“go to website”). Employees staffing career fair tables routinely tell candidates to simply go to the company website for more information. If that’s the case, why should the students even bother showing up?

Assign engaged business representatives to attend the fair, and make sure students know exactly who will be there ahead of time. They’ll be excited to take a break from social media and shake some real-life hands that could land them a job.

Centralize your data

Even though students won’t necessarily know about it, creating a central event repository keeps your team organized, which can make a positive impression on candidates even before the fair. A central event hub allows every team member to access one, complete system where they manage event materials.

Give everyone a clear understanding of event expectations, and you will eliminate disorder at recruitment events. You’ll be prepared and your team will operate seamlessly. When that comes across to students prior to the event, they’ll be more willing to walk through that door and meet you.

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