Job Fair Fundamentals
February 24, 2015
Man in suit

Job fairs: How to make the most of the opportunity.

A university job fair isn’t just a chance to show up and get your name out there to the student body (although of course that’s a big part of it), it’s also a chance to show how much more professional you are compared to your competition.

It can be astonishing how some companies, some big league companies, display a cavalier attitude at these events. On occasion they can be downright slovenly.

The students, on the other hand, have gone through a ton of preparation with career guidance counsellors on how to dress and how to behave. They’re going in looking for professionalism, and it can be a shock for them to be greeted by supposed professionals who aren’t treating these meetings with the same respect.

Phone your presence in and you’re going to lose student candidates.

So here’s a tip or two on how you can show those starry-eyed students that you’re meeting them because you want to, and that those meetings are important to you. Added bonus – you’re going to look better than the members of your competition who only put in a half-effort.

You’re at the Job Fair to Sell Your Company to Students

Keep your eyes on the prize. All of your efforts should be geared to extolling the many virtues of your company to the student body. You’re seducing the cream of the student crop away from your competitors.

Career guidance counsellors will coach students to not carry around loads of giveaways as they move from table to table. You probably won’t be thrilled to see a student show up at your table with their arms filled with swag from your competitors, right?

You’re not there for toys and t-shirts either. You’re there for the students and your company. Try to keep your goody-bag scrounging to a minimum.

The Scheduled Job Fair Hours Are Just the Beginning

If you’ve done your companyrepping right students are going to be eager to chat with you some more. That may involve setting up a whack of meetings beyond the main job fair hours.

Don’t consider this a drag, don’t bemoan the fact that the other reps are off to happy hour while you’re stuck in more meetings. Those extended hours are a badge of honor – you’ve been a bigger success than the other less-engaged reps, and you stand a far better chance to bring home some prize recruits to your company (which is sure to make the boss happy).

Dress Professionally

This job fair tip is going to depend somewhat on what company you’re repping and what your corporate culture or vibe feels like. Still, the students have had counsellors grooming them to within an inch of their lives the least you could do is show up in at least “business-casual”.

Besides, t-shirts at a business event just look tacky.

Turn Off Your Phone

So a sharp-dressed student with an astronomical grade point average approaches your table, gushing with excitement at the chance to meet a rep from your company which by the way she’s thoroughly researched and she has a couple of questions she’d really like to discuss about your latest service offerings and-

And you tell her yeah, hold on a sec, you’ve got to take this call. And then she hears you spending job fair time setting up a hair appointment or telling someone that you’re going to have a great time on an upcoming fishing trip.

The student’s excitement deflates and you’ve potentially lost yourself a monster of a recruit. When you’re at the fair, be at the fair.

Shake Hands

Shaking hands is good for you. Builds up that bacteria resistance. Also, it’s how human beings in the business world greet each other.

If germs are a big deal for you just bring along hand-sanitizer. Do not go for elbow bumps or air high-fives… they’re just so dorky.

Be on Their Side

This has a literal meaning – get out from behind your table and come around to greet students. It’s intimidating enough for students to approach you – especially if you’re the company they’re dreaming of joining – a table is something that separates you not only physically but also in a mental fashion.

The more ephemeral meaning of this tip is be the student’s coach or mentor, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Be on their side and help them out with their C.V. or give them a tip or two on how to impress V.I.P.s like yourself.

They might not land with you and your company right away, but they sure are going to remember the kindness you showed them. They’ll have you in mind if they’re looking to shake things up in a few years, or they may mention you to friends.

You Are Your Company

You are your company at the job fair. How you act will impact your immediate success in recruiting the best and brightest students and it will have a lasting impact in how your company is perceived by the students, the people they talk to about you, and the fair’s organizational body.

You expect students at the fair to be at the top of their game. Show them you and your company are worth the effort.