Ah, the fall! I love it. Everything about it: pumpkin spice lattes, fall scented candles, pumpkin carving, boots, and back to school time. As someone who’s made a transition from being on the ground as a college recruiter to a behind the scenes role in employer branding, it’s not often that I get back on campus. However, when I do, it’s a rush of excitement!
Recently, I traveled to the University of Pennsylvania (the “social Ivy” as I was told) in Philadelphia to represent my firm. It was probably one of the best career fair experiences that I have had, ever. While I was there, I chatted with some UPenn seniors, as well as their career center director to find out how employers can best stand out and connect with top students.
Advice from Career Services
I sat down and spoke with Patricia Rose, director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania and a 34 year veteran of the career services field. “Employers who are successful are the ones that are committed to establishing a presence and make the effort,” she advised. Additionally, she added that it would be ideal if employers were more “open to students beyond the obvious majors … there are great students in non-business fields, across all majors.”
Advice from College Students
“We are students in suits who are freaking out,” says Adam Garnick, a political science major at the University of Pennsylvania. “You have to be relatable … consider bringing alumni to help breakdown barriers so you don’t seem so scary.”
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“Send representatives who are passionate about their work,” agreed UPenn seniors Elyssa Pedote and Carly Gurick. “We met someone from Burger King and you could tell that he loved his job and is excited about what he does. It made us want to learn more about the company.”
Tips From a Former College Recruiter
As I walked around the career fair, I was pleasantly surprised by the energy in the room, other recruiters, and the companies that were present. Unfortunately, however, I saw quite a bit of sitting around. While companies are each given a table to display their banners and collateral, it doesn’t mean you have to stand (or worse, sit) behind them.
Standing up in front of your table makes you more approachable and is more welcoming. It’s like the non-verbal differences between smiling and frowning, or crossing your arms in front of you or opening them up.
Finally, don’t assume that students have already done their research on your company. While it’s great when they do, it’s probably unlikely that they will research all 100+ companies coming to the career fair. Remember, they have classes to attend and papers to write, too. Recruiters are there as representatives of their companies to talk to students. This is your opportunity to be more than a recruiter. It’s your chance to put on your teacher and advisor hats, too.
So, the next time that you or your team is on campus—Ivy League, Big 10, state school or community college—you can rock the career fair by: being open to more majors, making a commitment to building a regular presence, bringing alumni, showing your passion, appearing more approachable, and teaching students about who it is that you represent.
What other tips do you have for campus success? What do the best college recruiters do?