How to stand out at a career fair as an employer

Students are buzzing about back to school. Which means employers are buzzing about upcoming career fairs. Whether your company is planning showcases at high schools, universities, or trade schools – the student talent pool is overflowing. These potential candidates can be dedicated adds to your team, already proving their motivation & dedication with their pursuit of a degree or certification. But how do you attract those top performers? Career fairs can have hundreds of companies in attendance. How can your business stand out in the sea of competition?


Determining your goals

It may seem like a no-brainer starting point, but many businesses often overlook this initial step. Before you book a booth it’s important to understand – what is your company looking to gain from this career fair? Are you looking for entry level workers, available to start in the next few months? Or are you trying to fill intern positions to vet students before offering a full-time gig? Do you even have job openings available? Or is your booth more about brand awareness and community presence? All are great reasons to attend. But each requires a different game plan.

After uncovering why you’re participating, you can search for the best fair type to fit your needs. This could mean targeting different types of schools, students of certain grade levels, specific majors or find career fairs during particular seasons based on the availability of your openings. When you lay the right foundation for attending career fairs, you’re much more likely to find success.


Brand identity and presentation

First impressions are everything. And career fairs are no exception. So invest in well-designed, well-made booth materials. From backdrops, to retractable banners, to tablecloths and brochures, these materials are key to a successful booth. The goal of these items should be to visually represent your brand well AND entice students to learn more.

Need help promoting your brand and gathering the right materials? HTI’s in-house marketing team can help boost your brand presence with high quality designs and targeted messaging. Click here to learn more.

Prioritize peaking your audience’s interest. You should use messaging that resonates, this could be your company mission, a list of learning opportunities, examples of interesting products/services you deliver, or benefits and perks. Or tap into a supply of swag that students can take with them. After all, 30% of conference attendees use their swag after the event (TradeShowLabs), which means their interaction with your company lives on.

And finally, don’t forget that YOU are part of the booth presentation! So be sure to look engaged and ready to connect. This means dressing mindfully and refraining from sitting for long periods of time – this will make students more inclined to approach you.


Network like crazy

Whether you’re there to find your next great hire or spread awareness for your brand, it’s important to connect with as many people as possible. Prep work will help you accomplish wider and deeper networks while you’re there. Here are some key things to practice before your career fair:

  1. Make sure you can share a strong company pitch. Know your story and purpose.
  2. If you have positions available – keep a list of job requirements with you and create questions beforehand to vet candidates.
  3. Think of some personal stories you can share about your experience at your company. How has your organization impacted you for the better? What are some examples as to why they should join your team?
  4. Have an easy process for staying connected. This could be business cards to hand out or a QR code for people to easily apply. But remember – you’re going to interact with a large talent pool and you don’t want a complicated communication process holding you back.

Lastly, during the fair, take notes. These events can be chaotic and they’ll be over before you know it. Taking brief notes after conversations with students will help you remember front runners. This way, you can reach out to them with a personalized and targeted message after the event.


Career fairs are a great opportunity to tap into the young talent in your area. And these in-person events have a longer lasting impact & influence than job boards or display signs. HTI can help you plan and execute an engaging and successful career fair. Our team of experts work with you to design custom strategies, materials, and messaging to attract and retain promising young talent. 

Ready to make the most out of up-and-coming talent in your area?


HTI Workplace Expert


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