Career Fairs: Worth the $$$?


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Career Fairs – Mass Marketing

career fair

Don’t be another blurry face in a student’s memory. Use these tips to stand out at career fairs.

A successful campus recruiting plan should have a multitude of strategies info sessions, campus ambassadors direct recruiting on campus, social media to market events and jobs, and, today, general marketing tactics like career fairs. You name it; we’ve talked about it this month.

Career fairs have a time and a place but are not for every company. Below are my pros & cons to help you evaluate when to spend the big bucks.

Pros & Cons to Career Fairs

Career Fair Pros:

Mass Marketing: If you are just launching your employment brand or campus recruiting efforts, career fairs are a great way to generate word of mouth and brand recognition.

Broad Target Audience: If you have a broad target audience, i.e. students from multiple years and disciplines, this is a great approach to reach a lot of students at a single event.

The Marketing is Done For You: Career Centres spend a lot of time and effort marketing this event to their students.

Relationship Building with Career Contacts: This event is typically a big focus for your career centre contact. Supporting them in their events helps scratch their back.

Check Out Your Competition: It’s rare for you to be able to check out your competitors and get the scoop on their EVP, job openings, giveaways, and sales pitch. If possible, secret shop their booths so you can get the real story.

Career Fair Cons:

Cost: Sometimes career fairs are expensive. I’ve paid anywhere from $750 to $7500 to be part of one. Knowing whose attending (companies and typical student demographics) and last year’s attendance numbers will help you decide if the approximate cost/person is worth the spend.

Broad Target Audience: This is both a pro and a con. If you have a very specific target hire, i.e. 4th year chemical engineers only, the main career fair probably isn’t the best spend. Perhaps a targeted information session is a better spend.

Career Fairs are not all the same.

Check in with your campus ambassadors, past interns, and your career fair contact to understand who attended last year’s event. Student numbers, demographics and competitors help you understand if the event is a good fit for you. Remember to look at each campus individually and personalize your plan per campus.

If you decide that the pros outweight the cons, read on for 5 tips to maximize your career fair investment.

5 Tips to Maximize Your Career Fair Attendance:

1. Double Up Your Efforts. If you are spending the $$$ to send recruiters/business contacts onto campus, maximize your invest. Plan an information session that evening or the following day and market your event during the fair.

2. Be Creative. Make your booth stand out. Have cool giveaways (read Grace’s SWAG tips here). Send the right people – a mix of recruiters & hiring managers. Make sure they are comfortable talking ALL day and keeping their energy up!

3. Stand In Front Of Your Table. So many recruiters make this mistake – standing behind their table inside the booth. Get out in front of it and engage with students and draw them into your booth.

4. Collect Candidate’s Information. Extend the conversation by collecting candidate’s resumes/contact information. I typically use an excel grid on a laptop and have candidate’s provide their name, phone number, email address, and demographic info (year in school, discipline, graduation year). This way, my team can send a thank you post the event with a link to our ATS (applicant tracking system) & also reach out to target students based on upcoming jobs.

5. Think Outside The Box. Participate in virtual career fairs – many campuses are going in this direction. This helps you generate PR and WOM.

Your 2 Cents

Are Career Fairs your friend or foe? Worth the $$$?

Chelsea Newton
Chelsea is known as a dynamic and engaging talent consultant and professional speaker. As a Certified Executive Coach, she is extremely passionate about helping people realize both their goals and full potential. Chelsea has worked in 12 countries around the world helping Fortune 500 companies recruit, train, develop, and motivate top talent using cutting edge communication techniques and social media. She is currently developing top talent in the oil sands and speaking across Canada as the founder of Talent Formula.

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