The Last-Minute Guide to Career Fair Success for Employers

Career fair right around the corner-
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Yikes! How did it get to be October already? It seems like just yesterday we were layering up in our extra sweaters (June gloom here in the Bay Area is a real thing!), and now we’re loading up on pumpkin spice lattes and getting ready for Halloween.

If you’re as perplexed as we are about the passage of time, there’s a chance that you’ll find yourself scrambling to get ready for fall career fairs. You’ve suddenly got some coming up over the next few weeks, but maybe you’re not feeling as prepared as you’d like.

Never fear. We’ve put together this checklist to help you prep as much as possible in the time you have left before your next event—even if it’s just a single day away.

If your career fair is tomorrow…

Get comfortable

  • Pick out your most stylish and comfortable pair of shoes. You’re going to be doing a lot of standing (hopefully in front of your booth—not slumped behind it), so do yourself a favor and choose footwear you won’t regret within the first 15 minutes.
  • Make sure you know your route to the campus, where you’ll be parking, how much time you’ll need to set up, and when you need to leave home to make sure everything else goes according to schedule.

Perfect your pitch

  • You know what you’ll say to the well-prepared, well-informed students who are a perfect match, but what about all the other students you might meet? What will you say to those who know nothing about your organization? Students who are not in your target class year or area of study? Try to be as helpful as possible. Is there someone else you can refer them to? Do you have scholarships or internships they can apply for in the future?
  • Remember that one of the biggest pet peeves students have is being sent to your company’s website. Even if a student is not a great fit, think about how you can provide mentorship/coaching to students in general. If you create a positive impression of your company, students will remember and share that information with their peers.

If your career fair is next week…

Get the word out

  • Reach out to former interns and student ambassadors. Ask them to tell their friends and classmates to stop by your booth.
  • Share your schedule on social media. Work with your marketing/social media teams (if you have them) to craft some copy that’ll let students know where and when to find you on their campus.
  • If you have a talent network, draft up a quick message to students in the right area to let them know you’ll be nearby. Encourage them to stop by, and maybe offer some extra swag to anyone who mentions they heard about the event through the talent network.

Refine your résumé-taking technique

  • Make sure you have a system for taking and keeping track of résumés. Are you using a CRM like Recsolu or iCapture? Do you have a back-up plan in case the internet connection is wonky?
  • If you’re taking paper résumés, develop a technique for sorting and organizing. Will you make quick notes on résumés for stand-out students? Some recruiters use a color-coded sticker system so they can quickly make note of certain skill sets or which department they think a student would be best suited for. Work with the others on your team to streamline this process.

If your career fair is next month…

Get your “dream team” together

  • Do you have some wiggle room with the group of people you take with you to a career fair? If you do, think about putting the best possible team together on a school-by-school basis. Some things to consider: alumni from that institution, recent grad hires or former interns who can speak about their experience, managers from the departments you’re hiring for, and passionate people who really love their jobs.

Check in with the school

  • Do a quick check-in with your contact at the career services office or the department that’s hosting the event. Find out what they’re doing to publicize the event, which other companies will be present, and confirm your location and set-up details.

If your career fair is next semester…

Do some recon work

  • Learn as much as you can about career fairs at this particular institution. Find out if you can visit one of the events this semester to observe. If you’re given the chance to do this, talk with other participants, observe their set-ups and traffic patterns, and take notes! What can you learn and apply to your own career fair strategy?

Confirm that this is the right audience

  • Do these students/programs match up to your company’s hiring needs? If not, what adjustments can you make to help align them?

Do some long-term strategizing

  • Are you being realistic with your career fair expectations? The most experienced university recruiting teams view the career fair as just one part of their overall strategy and see it more as a branding and pipeline-building opportunity than a place to fill immediate openings.
  • Need a little help with this? We’ve got some resources to help you see the big picture and figure out the steps you can take to make your future events even more successful. Check out the “Creating a Career Fair Strategy” webinar on YouTube and visit our webinars page to sign up for one of our upcoming sessions to have your questions answered live. And if you’re wondering if you can just skip career fairs altogether (or you’re trying to get others on board with your career fair strategy), check out our “Can you skip the on-campus career fair?” post.

Have any other career fair questions we haven’t answered in this post? Let us know in the comments and we’ll address them in a future post or webinar!

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