Want to Stand Out With Your Information Session?

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3 Steps to Plan Awesome Information Sessions


Don’t let your info session speaker be just another blurry leader – stand out!

Campus Recruitment: As you’ve learned earlier this month, swag is worth the $$, “coolness” matters with giveaways, you need to be strategic in planning your campus events, and students want an experience – even when applying for a job. Now, let’s talk about creating a stand out experience at your campus info session.

Do you remember doing the new grad recruitment circuit? All of the information sessions, career fair booths and classroom presentations blend into one big sales pitch.

Your goal: Stand out from the crowd, get the right students applying and hired into your new grad roles. By thinking a little differently about what you should present and whose speaking, you can meet this goal.

The recruitment team manages campus recruitment; however, it is OWNED by the whole organization. Thus, your business leaders are ultimately accountable for ensuring your brand is well represented on campus & they hire the best new grads to take the company into the future. All senior leaders would agree with this statement; however, getting them to commit to traveling out to and speaking at events is sometimes a different story.

Use these 3 steps to build your campus information presentations & sell senior leaders on attending.

3 Steps to Build Awesome Information Session Presentations

Step 1: Understand What Students Want to Learn

Besides explaining your company history, business drivers, and the future of the company, students want to know what their experience at your company will look like.

We’ve all had an experience where we have been sold the “PR” story of a hotel or trip BUT when we arrive, the REAL DEAL feels like a 180 from our expectations. The same is true with a job.

You need to ensure you set realistic expectations with your students so they are bought in and engaged to deliver. Tell the WHOLE STORY at information sessions.

I always explain to students that the interview process works both ways – we are seeing if they meet our needs but they also have to decide if they want to be part of our story. I want 100% buy in. Thus, I like telling the good and the not so good of joining my company. If we aren’t going to promote you until have put in at least 2 years of grunt work – know that coming in. Set the right expectations.

Students top concerns during the campus recruitment period are:

  • What are my responsibilities?
  • Who will I report to?
  • Who will I work with?
  • What type of training/learning & development opportunities will I have?
  • What type of mentorship will I have?
  • What will my starting pay be? Annual increases? Bonuses?
  • Additional incentives?
  • Benefits? Health & Fitness allowances?
  • How often will I be given feedback or evaluated?
  • What is my promotion or succession potential?
  • And, what do those roles look like?
  • What type of hours will I work?
  • What type of flexibility is there within my work schedule?
  • How is the company socially responsible?
  • I completely support Helen Rols’ argument (in 4 steps to planning campus events) that students want the REAL story about their future job.

    Your job, as a recruiter (and those business representatives attending) is to balance your sales pitch with answering their questions. Building the messages in a more specific company information session needs to showcase your unique culture with real live examples. Who gives this message is also important.

    You have to balance student’s needs with key things you need to tell them.

    Your Agenda:

  • Company History (keep it short!)
  • Job Details
  • Application Process
  • Application Deadline
  • Key Dates – Interviews, Offers, Start Dates etc
  • Creating an interactive presentation is important, and that brings me to step 2: method of presentation.

    Step 2: Throw Out that Boring Old Company History PowerPoint

    Almost every single Fortune 500 Company that hits campus rolls in with a senior leader and a 45-60 minute PowerPoint presentation followed by a Q&A and mix and mingle. They go through their company history, what their new grad program looks like, hiring needs and application process. BORING!

    These components are important, as we established in step 1; however, the way you deliver the information can really help you stand out.

    Don’t worry; I’m giving you steps to come up with a more creative and innovative information session presentation that still meets your business needs.

    Ask the Right Questions to Build the Right Answers:

    1. Host a 60-minute brainstorm (pizza helps with attendance) with your most recent new grads (minimum 10 in the room) and ask:

  • What made you decide to choose our company?
  • What do you wish we had told you in the recruitment process?
  • What’s the coolest thing about working here?
  • What do you wish you could change about working here?
  • Awesome recruiting experiences you had with other companies?
  • What company presentations WOWed you? Why?
  • How would you share our culture?
  • 2. Host a second 60-minute brainstorm. This time invite your most respected and well thought of leaders. Ask them:

  • Why did you join?
  • Why have you stayed?
  • How do you sell our business/products/services to clients?
  • How would you share our culture if you were building the presentation?
  • Taking the answers from the above brainstorms will help you build WHAT you need to say – i.e. your key messages.

    Now let’s talk about the presentation methodology. The additional strength of this process is you are gaining buy-in from some future presenters (more below in Step 3) from both new grads and senior leaders. By helping to shape the presentation and information, they are more likely to be engaged when delivering the content.

    Innovate Your Presentation:

    Case Studies – of new grads (most recent up to 3 year hire) showcasing roles and providing direct quotes about their experiences

    Video – Using video of testimonials of new grads (non scripted here is key) showing the office culture helps paint the real story

    Industry Trends vs Traditional Company Presentation – Could you do a lecture about the industry and hot trends and then briefly demonstrate why your company is making a difference or is leading edge?

    Integrating Social Media Testimonials – I Love my job type moments from Facebook, twitter, etc (more on this next week from Michael Mahoney)

    Switching up Speakers – using a senior leader to speak about the history, a recruiter to speak about the application process and a recent new grad to speak about entry roles

    Giveaways – Give away company related SWAG/prizes throughout for company trivia

    I think PowerPoint presentations still have a place in campus information sessions; however, the content should be interesting & engaging. Don’t let a speaker get up and speak off slides reiterating similar information they would share with investors or clients.

    Step 3: Pick the BEST & MOST Relatable Speakers

    Just because someone is a VIP in the office, doesn’t mean students will consider him or her a VIP.

    There is certain sway about having a VP take the time to make it to an information session; however, don’t forget to bring those new grads with you as well. In my experience, they are the ones who are swamped in the mix & mingle. Prospective students trust them to give them the real scoop on the job & the application process.

    If you can work directly with your CEO or President and get their buy-in and commitment to attend one event, you would be surprised how quickly other senior executives can find the time. If possible, be choosy about who you ask to speak at the events. Make sure they are engaging speakers. Additionally, if you have a senior leader who’s an alumnus of the campus, they add some street cred and invoke campus pride.

    Working with your senior leaders (and their Executive Assistants) to get campus dates into their calendars NOW is important. Booking a back up speaker (and booking their calendars) for every event is important just in case a business priority or trip comes up – plan for the unexpected.

    Additionally, host a 1 hour training session where you walk through the presentation talking about the key messages per slide. You want them to bring their own personalities to the day – ask them to make it fun and current.

    Keeping it Real

    At the end of the day, innovate, stand out but keep it real to your industry and culture.

    If your company is very conservative and there is a set progression plan (I’m thinking the accounting sector here), you want to paint that picture. If you are a marketing company and have a very innovative and trendy office space and work, you want to showcase that image.

    Make sure that you stay true to yourself in this process – be being true to you, you will gain hires that really WANT to be there!

    Be the company that takes a different spin on the traditional company presentation – after all, you MIGHT just stand out from the crowd. After all, isn’t that the goal?

    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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    • Grace L

      Great post Helen! I agree that timing is one of the huge keys in seeing success and having the best bang for your buck.

      On another note, do you think it has greater impact if the business partners/business representation present were alumni of the school?

      • Helen

        Hi Grace – thanks for your question. If your business representative is also an alumni of the school, their story can become more compelling and allow students to relate even more. If there is a reasonably recent connection, it can also bring the added advantage of leveraging on campus connections and creating networking opportunities with faculty and staff.

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