YouTern is proud to present this follow-up guest post from Elizabeth Dexter-Wilson, Coordinator of Career Services at Spring Hill College.
Last week I was honored to have YouTern highlight my blog post “Empower Job Seekers: Invert your Career Fair“. Since then, I have received several inquiries regarding the event and am happy to follow up with this post.
On March 30, my event titled “Hire on The Hill; Open House and Student Showcase” premiered at Spring Hill College. For a first time event, the student booths were well produced and the recruiter feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
So, will I do it again? Most definitely! In fact, I doubt I will go back to a traditional career fair. The opportunity for students to own their brand, market it and articulate what they bring to the professional world is just too good to give up. A variety of media can be used that result in a 3D version of a resume. And, it’s all placed directly in front of recruiters.
Although “Hire on The Hill” was successful for a first time event, it was far from perfect; one of the best things about trying something new. You stumble through, see what does and doesn’t work and take a lot of notes on how to improve for next time. My notes are compiled and I have come up with the following recommendations should you decide to give an inverted career fair a try.
Educating Students and Recruiters is a Must! Regardless of how well you describe the event, its uniqueness is going to cause some confusion. Therefore, the more detailed you are in marketing, clarifying objectives and describing the benefits for both students and professionals, the more success you’ll achieve.
Be Strategic with your Event Title If you choose to use the words “career fair” in your event title, a career fair is what recruiters and students will expect. Those words have a way of trumping any detailed description that follows. I recommend thinking strategically when coming up with the name.
Require Training Sessions for Students Requesting Booth Space This is huge! Overall, the students did very well in designing their booths. (They were given a handout with tips for designing a professional booth). However, they struggled with putting together a total package. Dressing professionally, articulating their booth displays, presenting themselves professionally, refraining from leaving food and drinks at their booth, etc., were areas that clearly needed additional training prior to the event. A workshop series covering all the areas I listed in my first blog need to be covered in order to fully prepare students for success at this type of event.
Establish a Networking Table and Common Area Recruiters may want to share information about their companies, internships and job opportunities with students as well. So, provide a place where company materials and business cards can be displayed and collected. This can also serve as a location for students to leave their booths and to network with recruiters in a different setting.
Provide Links to Students’ Online Profiles Just as students look online for recruiters’ links at traditional career fairs, links to students’ online profiles provide recruiters an opportunity to research students and identify the professional qualities they seek in new hires. Linkedin profiles and online portfolios should be well established for each participating student.
Advertise Voting and Awards Process Recruiters are asked to vote for their favorite booths based on presentation and professionalism. For competitive students, this can be a strong motivator for participation. For all students, the opportunity to be honored is a significant award to add to their online profile and professional brand.
Expect Resistance You won’t win everyone over to this type of event. Not all recruiters will be interested in participating. Expect the same resistance with students once they discover that preparing for the event takes a great deal more time and effort than a traditional career fair. Unfortunately, those unwilling to put forth the effort will lose out to those who ARE willing.
Consider Funding and Fit Funding will vary for each institution and will clearly dictate how your event plays out. Liberal Arts and Sciences institutions are fabulous fits for this type of set up whereas engineering and technical institutions may see a traditional career fair setting as a better fit for recruiting. Again, each institution needs to assess how this type of event will work for them.
This past week has kept me busy responding to inquiries, speaking with recruiters and hearing feedback from students who participated in “Hire on The Hill”. I am thrilled at how well my event went and hope this information is helpful to everyone interested in trying it at their institution. If you would like to discuss more details about the event, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to talk to you about how an inverted career fair might work for you as well!