Can You Skip the On-Campus Career Fair?

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Let’s start with a big question: How do you approach college recruiting? Are you heading to a few campuses hoping to fill specific roles? If that’s the case, you’ve probably experienced some frustration with the process. You may be feeling like you’re offering too little, too late, and other companies have already won the interest of the students you were hoping to hire. You may have even started to wonder if it’s worth your time and resources to continue campus visits at all.

Before you abandon your on-campus recruiting efforts, we have a few thoughts we’d like to share with you.

1. Career fairs matter to students

Let’s start by taking a look at some numbers. At AfterCollege, we survey thousands of college students and recent graduates every year about the job search process, and in both the 2012 and 2013 surveys, 60% of respondents chose career fairs as a top way to discover their future employer. The only methods that earned a higher rating were applying to jobs at a company directly and speaking to current employees, but career fairs provide a perfect opportunity for students to speak to a current employee—you! (And whoever else the company sends to the events.)

We’re not the only ones to notice this. In the 2012 Student Survey conducted by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 77% of students identified career fairs as a tactic they were using to learn about prospective employers. University recruiters also rated career fairs as the second most important technique for their hiring efforts, coming in just behind relationships with faculty.

2. Career fairs matter to top employers

If you’re not convinced that career fairs or on-campus events are important for you, just take a look at what the top employers are doing. ERE awarded the title of Best College Recruiting Program 2013 to Dell and Ernst & Young. Speaking of Dell’s University Relations efforts, one of the judges explained, “Its scope is truly scalable globally, with a clearly defined process which includes 250 target universities globally.” As for Ernst & Young, one judge wrote, “It’s not often that executive-level staff members take the time to get involved in entry-level recruitment but the fact that its CEO visits campuses around the nation raises the bar.”

According to its campus website, KPMG recruited more than 5,000 students on campus in the past year, and PricewaterhouseCoopers keeps a full schedule of on-campus visits throughout the year and the recruiting cycle. Microsoft has dedicated recruiters for specific schools, and provides profiles and contact information for each person, so students know who they’ll be dealing with during their on-campus interview.

The common thread between all these employers? Being a significant presence on college campuses.

3. Career fairs matter to YOU!

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Sure, that’s great for companies like Dell and Ernst & Young, but I don’t have the budget/resources/staff to recruit the way they do.” But what those successful companies understand is that their recruiting efforts are NOT about budget/resources/staff. Sure, those things can all help, but at its very core, on-campus recruiting is about building your brand.

This point is so important it’s worth repeating: At its very core, on-campus recruiting is about building your brand. It’s also worth mentioning that your brand on campus is often independent of your consumer brand.

The companies that are most successful with on-campus recruiting approach it as a long-term relationship-building effort rather than a transactional “We’re going to find X employee for Y position” interaction. Yes, ultimately you want to fill openings at your company, but the best recruiters are catching students’ attention early in their academic careers and building their brand so that students know them, trust them, and aspire to join their ranks. Successful on-campus recruiting allows you to build a talent pipeline so you have a steady stream of applicants for years to come.

Wondering about your company’s brand perception? Check out AfterCollege’s Employer Popularity Index to find out where you stand. You can see how your company ranks in general as well as at specific schools. CNN Money also published the World’s Top Employers for New Grads, a list of 50 companies that are most attractive to  business and engineering students.

We hope by now you’ll agree that career fairs and on-campus recruiting are an indispensable part of your overall recruiting strategy. AfterCollege is here to help you build your brand, target your events to the students and departments you want, and ensure that your on-campus recruiting is a success. Learn more about what we can do for you by visiting the AfterCollege Employer Events page.

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4 Responses to “Can You Skip the On-Campus Career Fair?”

  1. 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Out On Recruitment Fairs | Chegg Blog

    […] AfterCollege surveyed thousands of college students and recent graduates every year about the job search process, and in both the 2012 and 2013 surveys, 60% of respondents chose career fairs as a top way to discover their future employer. And though you may think only big Fortune 500 companies come to career fairs you are wrong. Many small and mid-sized companies also attend. […]

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