Successful Campus Events in 4 Steps

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Campus Recruitment Events

Planning successful campus events is not a small feat. It’s a lot of behind the scenes work on planning a strategy and then mapping the logistics. Add more campuses and it’s even more work.

To maximize your results on campus it is critical to understand: your target audience, where and how you can best reach them, the key messages you’d like to convey, and what delivery method and information resonates best with your target groups.

Use these 4 Simple Steps to Plan Successful Campus Events:

Step 1: Define Your Target Market

Defining discipline, year, and type of work is important.

Are you specifically looking for mechanical engineering technology students or are you looking for any type of engineering technology background? Are you looking for 3rd year commerce students or any year? Are you looking for students, interns, new graduates or all?

Defining your specific target groups will help you identify what type of educational institutions you should target and if you are looking to market your opportunities/organization to the entire institution, a specific discipline/program or even a specific year.

Step 2: Determine the Right Events & Timing

Connect with the Experts. Educational institutions offer a lot of support to employers looking to connect with students/new graduates. Typical events include career/job fairs, information sessions, and potential classroom visits or presentations. In Canada, on-campus events are typically scheduled around key hiring times for summer students, interns and new graduates.

Canadian key event & interview dates are:

  • September: New grads/interns starting in May (or January) the following year
  • January: Interns, summer students, or limited new grads starting in May
  • May: Interns starting in September
  • Typically you can connect with career services to identify what options are available on their campus. Some campuses (especially in the US) also have guidelines on when interviews must happen and firm dates for job offers and acceptances. Make sure you know their rules as you don’t want to get into their bad books or miss out on the opportunity to connect with students!

    Make sure you choose the type of event that will give you the most exposure to your target groups. Rule of thumb, for me: the more specific the target group – the smaller and more targeted the type of event.

    Example 1: I am looking to market my job opportunities to 2nd year geology students I would consider a class room presentation or perhaps a (2nd year) geology specific information session.

    Example 2: If I am looking to create overall awareness for my company for the entire educational institution or multiple faculties, attending a career fair might be more applicable.

    You may also consider a combined approach: attending the career fair for overall brand awareness and hosting an info session in the evening for a specific target group.

    Step 3: Develop Key Messages

    For a lot of companies, the messages conveyed to students and new grads are primarily based on all the great stuff they want to share about the company, the people and the great work they do professionally, as well as in our communities. This is a push model.

    I recommend a push-pull messaging model. Approach it from the target group(s) perspective – what type of information are they looking for? What are key drivers to apply and accept offers? Once you understand these drivers, develop key messages that are targeted and incorporate your organizations’ differentiators.

    Step 4: Delivery Methods and Resources

    Depending on the type of event, your delivery method may vary. Video, power point, hand–outs are all great opportunities to convey the messages you have carefully targeted to your key audience. Make it interactive to drive engagement.

    Your biggest consideration at this phase should be “who” will be delivering the message. My formula has been a mix of business ambassadors and recruitment staff. I typically plan for 1 recruiter at each event and the rest of the attendees are business representatives.

    I understand that your option to enlist business representation to support recruitment events will be highly dependent on business engagement and cost and time allowance for business representatives to attend. Understanding that one of the key drivers for applying to jobs and offer acceptance is realistic job information (insight into the real work), I cannot stress enough that business representation is key to a successful recruitment campaign!

    Other Considerations and Watch-outs:

    Start Your Planning in Advance!

    Plan to register for events approximately 4 months in advance! This will allow you to find a great spot for your career fair (ask for a floor plan); secure the right time for your information session or class room presentation (so you can combine travel for multiple events); and confirm your business resources in a timely manner. Leave sufficient time for all logistics, such as:

  • Ordering brochures and give-aways (Read Grace’s giveaway pros/cons)

  • Confirm/clean booth(s); banners etc.
  • Create a shipping schedule
  • Ship all relevant materials on time
  • Train your participants on key messages and general do’s and don’ts
  • Decide on dress code/order uniforms for company representatives
  • Marketing activity to drive attendance for your event
  • Driving student attendance to your events is a huge topic and can include posters, Campus Ambassadors, and social media. Stay posted for more on this topic later this month. This is especially important if the your campus event is not organized by the educational institution.

    Understand your Recruitment Mandate!

    Know what type and how many roles you need to recruit for. This will allow you to choose the right institutions and the right number of institutions (and will allow you to complete a cost-benefit analysis); target the right type of events (see step 2); create targeted materials, and prepare your company representatives.

    My key advice: do NOT attend an event if you do NOT have confirmed positions!! I know this sounds like a “duh” moment; however, just search YouTube for poor career fair experiences and you’ll know what I mean.

    Know how to Capture Strong Candidates!

    Maximize your ROI by creating a fit-for-purpose-process. This will allow you to leverage all the great candidates identified at the campus events; limit drop-off from event to application; develop your event ratios (attendee – applicant – hire) and measure your return on investment.

    Some things to ponder:

  • Will you accept paper applications or not?
  • Can you build a unique URL to your ATS to source track?
  • How can you minimize drop off between event attendance & applicants?
  • How do you identify strong candidates at the event to highlight in your process later on (screening/interviews)?
  • Final Thoughts:

    Being prepared for campus is a big task! I have tried to capture key elements that have helped me drive results on campus – I know there are many other elements that help drive success and would love you to share below.

    I’d love to hear from you about any other strategies/tools/processes or insights you have developed or used to be successful in student and new grad recruitment.

    Helen has more than 20 years of experience in Talent Acquisition working in Canada and Europe in a variety of industries including manufacturing, sales & marketing, and currently in Oil & Gas. No matter how challenging a recruitment project seems, Helen’s ability to break daunting goals into actionable steps have been proven time and time again. Watch for Helen's posts on recruiting tips and tricks. Trust Helen as an expert who has staffed projects targeting Olympic athletes, remote merchandizers, and hired over 1,200 students and new grads annually.

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