Is this the end of Careers Fairs?

BY Owen Firth |

For decades if not centuries, careers fairs have long been a staple component of graduate recruitment campaigns. They have been an accepted way to get your employer brand on campus and make some direct connections with students.

They have also been key events for universities to provide direct employer contact for students as part of their efforts to create job outcomes.

But careers fairs have always been a highly resource-intensive exercise with exhausted grad recruiters visiting numerous campuses across the country with printed material and stress balls in tow. They require a significant investment in time and money often with questionable direct results in return.

Certainly, it is difficult to create meaningful engagement with students and differentiate your EVP in the few minutes available to speak with each student. And how do you know they are the students you want to be speaking to?

These will likely be issues graduate recruiters will be considering in 2022 since the careers fair hamster wheel stopped during the pandemic. With mixed feedback from online careers fairs that were hastily put together in 2021, will employers return to the traditional approach or look for new ways to connect with early talent?

From our vantage point, sitting between universities and employers, we see fresh ways for employers to create deeper connections with targeted talent. We see an opportunity for employers to engage earlier with passive students from first year in order to help inform and influence their choice of employer and graduate role.

How? By delivering much needed professional development and work-readiness training to selected cohorts of undergraduates. Imagine the [Your Company here] Professional Career Series offered to Accounting students across multiple universities. Or the [Your Company] Engineering Careers Accelerator Program.

Not only does this approach provide a positive employer branding opportunity but more so, provides a forum to give students insights into your organisation, job opportunities and career paths. So whilst delivering important training that students need and universities often don’t have the resources to deliver, an employer can tell their story to a target audience before they are active in the job market. It is a win-win-win for employers, students and universities.

For employers with a strategic imperative to attract sought after talent (eg top IT talent, women in STEM, etc) or with critical hard-to-fill roles (eg auditing), this opportunity to influence the students you want over a longer-term is powerful. It is a way to achieve the ideal ah-ha moment for students that “I didn’t realise that IT roles in banks are pretty cool” or “I had never thought of XYZ company but I think they are really interesting”.

So, will careers fairs die off? We believe they will if they are simply a meet and greet event with students wandering past generic booths. If they evolve to facilitate employers to deliver meaningful development programs to students in a deeper way, then they will be relevant and valuable for students, employers and universities alike.

One thing is for sure…the pandemic has caused a rethink of many traditional models and graduate recruitment is no exception.


If you’d like to explore fresh ways to connect, engage and retain early career talent or simply to solve your current pain points in graduate recruitment, please take a look at our Ignite programs to learn more and talk to us to start the conversation.

We can create and deliver turn-key employer-branded development programs across the early talent spectrum.

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