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Poll results: Have you ever attended a career fair on your campus?

Our survey of campus recruitment professionals showed that 75% of them will attend zero-to-5 on-campus career fairs this year, and perhaps one of the reasons for that is employers are realizing that the majority of students do not attend them.

The results of a recent TalentEgg homepage poll show that while two thirds of students have attended a career fair at some point, only one third found the experience valuable enough to want to go again in the future.

Another 34% have never attended a career fair on campus.

Have you ever attended a career fair on your campus?

Have you ever attended a career fair on your campus?

These results raise questions such as:

  • How can career centers and employers make campus career fairs more valuable for students?
  • How should career fairs be marketed to students to ensure more of them attend?
  • What experiences have turned off the 32% who have attended career fairs but wouldn’t go again?
  • Are career fairs, as our campus recruitment survey results seem to show, slowly being phased out favor of smaller, more intimate events, such as information sessions?
  • With thousands of students attending Partnerships for Employment and other large career fairs, what can we do to improve the experience for those who choose to attend?

How would you answer these questions?

Whether you’re a career center, employer, student or other, please leave your ideas in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. My main turn off at the one career fair I attended – all the companies marketed to me. They told me how great they were, how awesome their sales were, what famous person used to work there, etc. After they gave their spiel, they asked what my degree was. I said “Music with a Minor in Anthropology, but I have a great interest in ______.” They basically shut me down after that. What was the point?

  2. As a recruiter who spends some time on campus but more time simply interacting with students, these numbers don’t surprise me. I would prefer to speak in a classroom, attend a networking event or meet with a student organization over setting up a booth and answering the same questions all day! The events tend to be impersonal and in these settings it is hard to truly share what makes Starbucks Coffee the 4th Best Workplace in Canada!

    Really what I am trying to accomplish when I go on campus is education around what it’s like to work at Starbucks, what opportunities exist and answer any questions students have. I also spend a lot of time listening and asking them questions to learn what is important to them. If they like meeting me and I am helpful to them in their career search I know they will either be interested themselves or refer great people to work for our company – and that is the result I need – it is a simple as that.

    What could be done differently to make events more valuable? Perhaps smaller more intimate events (Ryerson does this well with their Retail Week), more interactive company booths, networking events with employees from the participating companies rather than only HR representatives.

    Look forward to hearing from students on this one!
    K

  3. Kate MacKenzie

    July 12, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I am a third year business student and I rarely attend campus career fairs. However, I do attend small information sessions, hosted by a single company or graduate school. I find these sessions to be really helpful because of the intimate feel that Kirsti mentions. It’s easier to get the info I need and to ask questions when I’m focusing on one company rather than meandering between booths and hearing multiple, very similar pitches in a single day.

  4. I am a graduate student currently enrolled in an internship with the City of Hamilton.
    I have attended the career fairs 3 or 4 times and every single fairs provided me with the same experience. As Zahra mentioned, all of them did market very well to the attendees. I understand that this is required to establish their profile and their role in the current business. The reason I stopped attending these events were because all the companies who had their presence at the fairs had at the most two available positions and hundreds of resumes on the table. In addition to that, they just ask us to drop the resume on the table or provide us with the link to apply online. What was the whole purpose of the career fair then?
    Due to this I decided to apply online ( for no positive results) and apply through networking. But again, like all the others I am still waiting

  5. I have attended BrockU’s Career Expo various times while a student at the university. It was helpful to practice networking but there wasn’t much there for me. Many of the attendants were focused on business students or further education. It’s disappointing when a school that promotes ‘both sides of the brain’ cannot attract a wider range of companies for their students. I hope a greater variety of companies will find the value in attending future Expos to find students with well-rounded backgrounds and diverse educations. I’m sure I’ll be attending other fairs this year and look forward to the experience and being able to compare.

  6. As an employer, I prefer informatrion sessions over career fairs as I find that students have done some basic research on our company and come well prepared and ready to network. At career fairs, I often find that I spend a good portion of the day explaining what we do rather than getting the chance to get a good understanding of the students experience and background….It’s hard to spend too much time talking to each candidate as the numbers are so much higher. The smaller more intimate events allow us to better connect and get to know candidates that already have an interest in our company. Career fairs can be effective at school’s where employers haven’t build a strong enough brand presence to ensure they would get a great turnout at an info session.

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