Social Recruiting

Building Your Buzz Before The Career Fair

You just registered for a career fair. First of all, congratulations. There is a massive field of talent just lurking in the university waters, hoping to swim to the surface and help you develop your business. The thing is, the students are waiting for you to lure them to the top and you should have started getting the word out about your company yesterday. The animal kingdom analogy is running a little thin, but career fairs are like zoos and you want your company to be the one holding a sign-up sheet chock full of interested, qualified, applicants over your head just like Rafiki holds up Simba on top of Pride Rock. Here’s how to build some buzz about your company, brand and talent community before booth setup even begins.

1. Tap Into the Alumni Network

Every college student wants to walk up to an alumni from their school, ask them what they’re currently up to and have the answer be “Working successfully in the exact same field that you want to break into.” That’s an instant connection, and a valuable one. You can make this fictional scenario a reality by making sure you bring along an alumnus that currently works at your company to the fair. They might want to see the new campus renovations and they will definitely help make your potential hires more comfortable. This also facilitates ease of access into the talent community that you should be building. You can, and should, also reach out to graduates who work at the school. No one wants to promote the school more than the person who clearly has more than enough school spirit to go around. So let the network know you’ll be around and ask for a kindly promotion.

2. Tweet Smarter, Not Harder.

College students are really receptive to marketing personally tailored to them and their interests. Trust me, I graduated a few months ago and not that much has changed since then. A lot of business-minded and savvy individuals, aka the people you want to work with, follow several of their school’s social media channels. Give the related department’s twitter guru a mention and they will almost certainly help you help them. Next step? Find some students who are following that feed, and check out their twitter bios. If any seem interested in your field, don’t be afraid to give them a little shout out. If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t have time to do that, then the word of the day is delegation. Make a list, assign a team member and let social media inertia do the rest. The next tip might go without saying but I’ll say it anyway.

3. Create A Hashtag & Use It. Use It A Lot.

Believe it or not but students love shoutouts and followers just as much as brands do. (We live in a changing time in which a personal brand can be just as important as a company’s brand. I would like to point to Section 2 Page 2 of the fictional white paper “Our Brand, Ourselves” for more on this topic.) So if you see someone using your hashtag, throw a mention their way. Plus, this is one of the easiest ways to directly track student engagement with your company and brand. It also gives you instant, user generated content that you can use for your own marketing. Tracking your return on investment has never been easier and this way, you can gauge interest, funnel that interest into your applicant pipeline, and improve your overall Quality of Hire.

4.     Know your audience.

Just like you want your applicants to know as much as possible about your company before their first day or even their first interview, you should do some research to get to know the campus culture, academically and socially. You want to appeal to students just as much as they want to appeal to you. That’s the way the dance works. Who knows, you might even be able to connect with some people IRL (In Real Life) that you reached out to on the interweb.

5. Make some connections.

So you’ve already connected to individual students because you read step 2. Now is the time to get connected to the larger student groups, many of which also have active online presences. Nearly all of this advice can be expanded and built upon in your other social media communities. That means share this content out on facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. Don’t be shy.

Great. Your buzz has been built. By now you’re on your way to rallying a bunch of support for your team. But the career fair itself is still going to be a huge push. Don’t worry though; just remember your complimentary shot glasses and everything will be fine.

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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.