What College Students Want To Know: Career Fairs

By Madison White on September 30, 2016

Connecting with students through career fairs works well, but what could make them better? There are tables lined up one after the other of company after company. What could possibly make your company different and a better contender for scoring the best of the university?

Making the most out of your career fairs will come from getting to the bottom of what students really want in an employer. Knowing which questions they might ask and how to gracefully address them can make all the difference.

1. What’s available?

If you’re at a career fair, expect to be questioned about what you may be hiring for now or soon. Students may not be desperate for a job, but they’ll be way more interested in you if you have opportunities they can apply for right away. If all your opportunities seem too far away or completely unreachable, they’re going to forget that you’re even an option.

By carmichaellibrary (Career Fair Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You may be looking to score some recent graduates, but bear in mind that 3/4 of the students at the university aren’t in their senior year. That’s a very large amount of potential you could be missing out on by targeting just seniors. Now, your and their ultimate goal may be employment upon graduation, but if you have any other opportunities like internships or part-time work available now, that is going to seem all the more appealing to students passing by.

2. When are you hiring?

Similarly, students want to know when you’re hiring. It may be true that you hire on a rolling basis or that applications go year round, but saying that will only attract some students. Other students need to work with deadlines to get anything done. If you’re looking to fill positions in the near future, give a tentative date that you’ll be accepting applications until. This way, they’ll have a deadline to work toward and actually be handing something in rather than putting it off forever.

Also, if you’re looking to hire someone a few months down the road, get their information now or let them apply now and hold the application. If you can’t do that, maybe start an email list and send reminders when applications are being taken for the new position. Anything to keep students up-to-date and informed is a great thing.

3. What are you looking for?

Of course, your company isn’t looking to hire just anybody. Coming to a career fair suggests that you think university students possess the potential you may want in future employees. Whatever it is your company stands for, make sure that those statements are made loud and clear.

What makes your company stand out? What unique opportunities can it provide? Maybe your company strives to be active in the community so you host regular volunteer events and partnerships. Showing and talking about that will bring in a certain quality of students.

If you send your employees lots of places around the globe, show that the students may also get to travel the world. Whatever niche your company resides in, showcase it.

4. Where or how could I expand?

Students at career fairs aren’t looking for more dead-end jobs. They know they can work and succeed at minimum wage if they want to. What they really want is a way to make progress on the things they love to do. Often, this means that students will be willing to take on some of the grunt work if it means the possibility to grow and become something great is there.

If you have past stories of university students starting at the bottom and working their way up, let them know. Tell them what positions they held and now hold, how long it took them, what it took to get there. If anything, assure them that your company is working to make their dreams come true as well.

5. Do you partner with the university?

Another very important thing to students is college credit; after all, that is what they’re there for. If you have any way to partner with the university with internships, co-ops, or part-time work that can also count as credit, do it. For students, it’s like killing two birds with one stone. It also shows students that you’re willing to work with them as they grow through their education. It shows that you don’t think less of them just because they don’t have a degree yet and that you’ll support them through their educational process.

So, you’ve ticked off all your answers to the questions above. Perfect. Now you just need to put them in action. Implement those systems for internships and take action to create college friendly programs that work well with students. The effects of these efforts will go far when attracting and keeping the best students and future employees.

By Madison White

Uloop Writer
Wichita State University
My list of places traveled is growing but will never exceed my list of places to travel next.

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