College students are complex individuals. They say they want one thing, but often lack the enthusiasm to put themselves out there to go and get it. It is assumed that the reason they are in college is to get a degree and eventually a job. While this is understood, it can be difficult for them to see past the present moment and go after their future goal. Students live in the now. They are more concerned with their upcoming exams, going out over the weekend, and spring break plans than what they are going to do after graduation. Whether this prioritization stems from fear of the future or love for the now, employers need to spend their time recruiting on campus in the NOW where students live. As an employer you may be asking yourself, “How do I get the students to come talk to me?” As a student and the Career Center Marketing Assistant, here is what works:
1. Quality Freebies
Notice the word quality is in bold. This is because students do not really need another pen or frisbee. They are more inclined to walk up to a table that is giving away something that provides value to their life. The most successful tables I have seen pass out food or vouchers for food. Students are drawn to this because it solves two essential needs: saving money and getting nourishment. The winning component for you as the employer is that the student is going to feel like they owe you something in return and be more willing to have a conversation about opportunities at your company!
2. Make Your Table POP
While it is understood that different organizations prioritize marketing in different ways, a little in terms of presentation style can go a long way. Put forth the effort to make your display pop; Incorporate colors and graphics! Students view your table display as a representation of your company culture. If there are balloons, a banner, and eye-catching flyers, students are more likely to want to know more. If there is not even a sign to advertise what you are doing there, the odds of students walking right by are going to increase significantly. Like students are expected to be their best selves on Career Fair day, your company needs to be its best self on recruitment days!
3. Integrate an Element of Competition
While this might not be as applicable for Career Fairs, general tabling events that have had great success involve opportunities to WIN. Successful ideas I have seen include raffles and “pong” events! These do not take a lot of effort and if it gives students an opportunity to compete to win a prize, they are all in! Plus, I have seen employers utilize this strategy to gain student information i.e. email addresses and phone numbers to continue the recruitment process past the tabling event.
4. Be Approachable and Fun!
Put yourself in the shoes of the student for a minute. Maybe they are really interested in your company but are too nervous to walk up and introduce themselves. Alleviate some of their anxiety by standing up, smiling, and positioning yourself in a way that seems welcoming to students. Just by saying “Good Morning” to students as they walk by will leave a positive impression of your company on campus. While it’s definitely easier to sit behind the table and make small talk with your fellow recruiters, students are going to pick up on a vibe of exclusivity and not want to engage with you because they feel left out. Now this does not mean to act like “Recruitment Robots” because that is a turn off too. But a little friendliness and personality can go a long way.
My final words of wisdom are this: understand you are marketing to a generation that lives in the NOW. College students have college student priorities and the best way to get them to think long-term is to appeal to them in the short-term. I promise if you take any or all the tips above, students are going to have a greater interest in your company and want to learn more about why you are standing there recruiting. Hopefully, this will provide you with a stronger and wider pool of candidates that would have otherwise been too afraid to step up to the plate and introduce themselves!
Just my two cents,
Graduate Marketing Assistant
Graduate Marketing Assistant