Planning A Careers Fair: 5 Top Tips
An interesting seminar programme, quality exhibitors and plenty of refreshments can all help make your graduate careers fair a success.
Graduate careers fairs are a great way for students to connect with a range of different employers and find exciting career opportunities. However, despite the planners’ best intentions they can sometimes be a little boring, resulting in disinterested attendees and unhappy exhibitors. To avoid this, we’ve got some top tips to help you create an interesting and engaging event that meets the needs of your students and potential employers.
The main thing students want to see at a graduate fair is a range of high quality career opportunities, so make sure you put in the legwork to secure a selection of respected employers from a variety of different sectors. To help you get this right, it’s a good idea to involve students in the early planning stages – ask them which employers they would like to see at the fair, and what would make the event really valuable to them.
Exhibitors may be the most important element of a graduate fair, but to make your careers fair stand out from the rest you need to go the extra mile and put on additional activities for your guests. A seminar or workshop programme, or Q&A sessions with a panel of industry leaders, always go down well, as do more practical offerings such as CV surgeries or mock interviews. Meanwhile, fun activities such as competitions, photo opportunities and social media tie-ins will help to add some light relief to the day. And, of course, everybody loves a freebie, so consider providing all attendees with a useful career-related gift – to avoid incurring an extra cost you could ask one of the exhibitors if they’d like to sponsor the gift.
The one thing guaranteed to make attendees switch off and leave the fair early is long queues, so careful planning is needed to create a good flow and ensure that everyone leaves satisfied. To avoid overcrowding, make sure you have a venue that can easily cope with your maximum projected attendance, and if you are running a seminar programme consider asking people to pre-register so that they are not disappointed on the day.
Make it easy
Graduate fairs can be very busy and there is a lot to pack into one day – so the last thing your attendees want is to waste time getting lost or struggling to find what they’re looking for. Make it as straightforward as possible for your students by providing a printed programme (or, even better, an event-specific app), which includes an event timetable and map of exhibitors. Clear signage throughout the venue is a must and, to make it even easier you might want to create clear ‘zones’ which group employers by industry.
Job hunting can be hungry (and thirsty) work so be sure to provide food and refreshments for your attendees and exhibitors. This can be done in a number of different ways. You could set up a ‘street food’ area with lots of different vendors for attendees to choose from, or you could put on a buffet or sit-down lunch. And, don’t forget drinks. Coffee machines for mobile vans are a great way to keep attendees energised throughout the day, and an evening drinks reception always goes down well, particularly if it offers students and employers an opportunity to network with each other in a more informal setting.
By taking these tips on board, we’re sure your graduate fair will be a success. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to capture feedback from students and employers to find out what did and didn’t work well so that you can make next year’s graduate fair even better.