To Fair or not to Fair, that is the question…

A common query from employers who are new to student recruitment is “what should I do first?” There are so many options for performing outreach to our campus , that I get why there is some confusion over how (and where to begin).

Often, employers are already familiar with the idea of Career Fairs, and assume that’s where they should begin. For some, that is a great idea. For others, their budget and efforts may be better spent elsewhere. I’d like to suggest that employers considering Career Fair attendance ask themselves the following questions…

  • What exactly are my hiring needs? That’s right, hiring needs. As tempting is it may be, a Career Fair is not a place to come advertise products or services (in fact, we don’t allow it). I recommend that you should be actively looking to hire for at least 2-3 openings/internships in the near future, whatever that means for your organization. The more positions, the better, and the more chances that a student can make a long-term career out of them, the better.
  • Do I see value in having face-to-face interactions with potential employees?  Online/digital applications are very common these days, so it’s no surprise that many of the employers who attend career fairs have electronic apps. In fact, many have to decline paper resumes that are offered to them by students. As a result, when there is no exchange of paper, there is little happening aside from the conversation between the recruiter and the student.  Does your company value such interactions?  Which brings me to…
  • Am I okay with the possibility of talking for 5+ hours? What it really comes down to is whether or not you (or your company’s representatives) can maintain a positive attitude toward each student who approaches your table after a long and tiring afternoon. I have (unfortunately) seen recruiters who wear their exhaustion on their face, and it negatively affects the interactions they have with potential employees.
  • Do I see long-term benefits to having UCI students aware of our opportunities?  You’ll likely spend time talking to students who will be ready for your next wave of job opportunities, but you’ll also meet students who have another year or two of school (or more) to finish before they’re ready to take on work. Are you okay if not every conversation you have results in an immediate application?  To piggy-back on that, there will be students who notice your presence, but who don’t talk to you.  How does that sound to you?

All right, it’s no secret what the answers to these questions should be. What I’m hoping employers understand is that career fairs can be great investments for many, but not everyone. If you only need one student for a part-time opportunity that starts immediately, it’s not your best bet. But if you want to build a pipeline of future graduates and develop long-term relationships, it’s a great way to begin. For those specifically interested in UCI Career Fairs, further details are available here. And, for those joining us later this month (or after), be sure to check out last fall’s Top 5 Career Fair Tips (for recruiters).

-DBO

 

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