How to Appeal to College Students at a Virtual Career Fair

Feb 16, 2021 - Tiffany Monhollon

Much of today’s recruitment is focused on college students, who belong to Generation Z. This demographic is known for their diversity, experience with technology, and social activism. As a result, Gen Z carries their own priorities and expectations when it comes to evaluating prospective employers. In a virtual environment, it can be challenging for employers to showcase why they are a good fit for Gen Z candidates. Drawing upon research about Gen Z in the workforce, as well as campus recruiting trends, here are some ways to engage Gen Z students at a virtual career fair.

Start communicating with students early

Whether it’s for a consumer brand or an employer brand, personalization is the key to attracting Gen Z. That means you should reach out to college students before the virtual career fair even begins. For example, you may wish to reach out to prospective candidates on LinkedIn and send them a personal invitation to attend your booth at the career fair, or send a personalized email blast to your opt-in list. You can also use other recruitment marketing strategies including posts on your social media channels and inclusion in the university’s career center newsletter.

Prioritize face-to-face communication as much as possible during the fair

Gen Z is known as the generation of “digital natives,” but that doesn’t mean face-to-face communication is taboo. In fact, a 2017 survey of college students found that 72% prefer face-to-face communication when possible. So make sure your virtual career fair platform enables you to provide a one-to-one connection with candidates. For example, incorporate video calls into your virtual career fair booth to drive engagement and foster face-to-face communication between recruiters and prospective candidates. At Brazen, we recommend offering video, audio, and chat capabilities within your career fair booth to appeal to a range of communication styles.

Offer scheduled time slots to speak with recruiters

Gen Z students want to maximize their time at the career fair, which can be hard to do if there is a long line to speak with a recruiter at a booth. If a student sees they are the tenth (or twentieth!) in line, they may skip out on your booth altogether. But you can alleviate this problem by offering students the opportunity to sign up in advance for a specific time slot. Brazen now offers a scheduled chat feature so that employers can better organize their time and resources during campus recruiting events, and students can plan on a specific time when they need to visit a specific employer’s booth.

Highlight your company culture, remote and in-person

Company culture is an important factor for all prospective employees, but especially those at the beginning of their career. With a virtual career fair, you can draw upon multiple types of media to showcase your company’s culture and mission, giving students a better idea of what it’s like to work at your company. Use your virtual booth to post a video tour of your office and pictures from company social or volunteering events. Showcase teams working from home or how your organization has adapted to the needs of the pandemic. Highlight employee testimonials, in written and video formats, about their experiences with the company. Be sure to include information from recent employees or interns who may have started their job remotely, and share some downloadable resources about what the remote onboarding process is like.

Showcase your commitment to DEI initiatives

Another campus recruiting best practice is to show your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Research from Deloitte found that Gen Z is poised to be the most diverse generation in the nation’s history, and a top factor they consider in evaluating an employer is how the company recruits, trains, and retains diverse talent. At a virtual career fair, post materials highlighting your company’s affinity groups, professional development programs focused on diversity, and mentorship opportunities for diverse candidates. You may also wish to have some representatives from some of your DEI initiatives participate in your booth, or invite representatives of different employee resources groups to participate and connect with prospects.

Talk about your professional development programs

Deloitte’s research also found that career development is a priority for Gen Z candidates. This generation recognizes that today’s career paths are rarely linear, and that it’s important to keep learning and building skills for an ever-evolving workforce. Do you offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education? What about in-house training or funding to attend conferences? Within your virtual booth, include recruitment materials that highlight these opportunities and encourage your recruiters to talk about career development at your company.

Follow up after the virtual fair

Want to make a lasting impression on Gen Z college students? Send a personalized follow-up to promising candidates. Thank them for visiting your booth at the fair, and let them know the next steps in the recruitment process. Since you’ve collected their contact information, you can also let them know if any future virtual events or job opportunities that would be a good fit. With Brazen, you can easily email prospects from the platform right after an event (and even connect with hiring managers to quickly move the process forward with top candidates!) Communication and timing are important for every job seeker, so use these tips create an excellent candidate experience for college students you connect with at virtual career fairs and hiring events.

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