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Tips for Increasing Student Attendance at Your Next Career Fair

If you're looking for early career talent, there's no doubt that organizing a campus career fair is a great way to meet potential employees and expose your employer brand to a large number of people in a short period of time. But in order to make your event a success, you need to get attendees through the door. Whether you’re planning a traditional or virtual event, the following are tips for increasing student attendance at your next career fair. 

7 Tips for Boosting Student Attendance at Your Next Career Fair

1. Choose the Most Effective Marketing Channels

Although career centers can help market your event through their own channels, it’s important to also choose the right strategies for your own marketing efforts. From social media to your careers website, determine which channels are best for marketing your event so you reach as many students as possible.

2. Study the Competition

With so many companies out vying for the same talent pool, it's a good idea to study what other organizations have done on campus during their career fairs. How are they marketing their events? What types of swag and activities are they offering? This kind of information will help you determine what works and what doesn’t, while allowing you to put a unique spin on your event and offer things the competition does not. 

3. Build an Attractive Employer Brand 

Hearing about your career fair may be the first contact some students have with your organization, but it won't be the last. Some students will research the company before coming to your event to see what kind of reputation you have as an employer. Similarly, students you meet in person will want to do their homework before applying for any positions. Either way, it's important to maintain an attractive employer brand before the first attendee arrives. 

To show what your company has to offer young professionals, create messaging specifically for early career talent. Build a careers website specifically for this demographic to let students know how your organization will help them advance in their careers. Also, leverage social media to tell your company story to this specific audience. 

4. Partner With Key Campus Contacts

Forming key partnerships on campus is vital to making your event a success. In addition to partnering with the career center to organize the event, work with the school's dean and communications department to create messaging on the overall importance of career fairs and how students can benefit from attending them. 

Also, partnering with student organizations can help get in front of possible attendees you’d like to see at the career fair. For example, a company with a diversity recruitment plan may be looking for entry-level engineers, so it's a good idea to partner with organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers for additional exposure. 

5. Pick the Best Time for the Event

It doesn't matter what you plan to do at your event if it's not scheduled at the best time to maximize student attendance. Generally, the worst times to schedule a campus career fair are in the beginning and end of any semester because this is when students' schedules tend to be the most hectic. As a result, the middle of any semester is an ideal time to hold a career fair, but it's important to be mindful of the periods when students have midterms. Additionally, you want to make sure there are no conflicts with big events planned on campus.

6. Get Faculty Involved

Just as your company can build relationships with a school's career center, dean, and communications department, you can also cultivate relationships with professors in key disciplines. Faculty members know students who are learning the skills the workforce should have, so it's a good idea to work with them to spread the word about your event. Also, you may be able to schedule presentations during different classes to familiarize students with your company, and how they can build a successful career there. 

7. Follow Up With Students 

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make related to an event is not keeping in touch with the leads they generated there. To make the most out of the connections you made, immediately send an email thanking everyone who showed up—whether you thought they were a good fit for your company or not—to create goodwill with the attendees. This is the perfect opportunity to market your careers site, capture contacts for your mailing list, and keep students abreast of company and industry news.  

A campus career fair is an effective way to build a strong pipeline of young talent—and the more students you attract to your event, the more qualified candidates you’ll have to choose from. These tips can help you increase the student attendance at your next career fair and ensure you not only get their attention for a day, but get people excited about possibly working for you after graduation.

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