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Engaging first year students at freshers’ fairs

The importance of engaging first year students at freshers’ fairs to encourage them to start thinking about careers

20 / 02 / 2019Fiona Doherty

At each university freshers' fair, the stage is set for charged engagement. Powered by its own buzz, such events attract a high volume of first years – and this is your opportunity to catch their attention. The voltage is supplied to start those conversations about future careers: whether that’s getting your message across, being the name that sticks or getting recruits early on for internships or placements.

Have a presence; increase brand awareness

Your presence at freshers’ fairs is essential to encourage first years to start thinking about their future careers. This is beneficial from the perspective of brand awareness. The freshers’ fair is the point at which the student pool encounters multiple sectors and gains critical insight – which may spark their later choices as applicants. If you’re able to plant the seed by having a strong presence, you increase your chances of being considered when it comes to making key decisions at the graduate level. Be sure to make a good first impression by being there and staying relevant.

Make sure you stand out

In order to engage first-year students at freshers’ fairs, boost awareness of your brand through the effective use of competitions and marketing materials as promotional tools. It’s important to remember that to attract sign-ups and attain the data necessary for future communications, you’re going to want to think about what you’re giving away and the ways in which you can stand out and be memorable.

Connect, invite and communicate effectively

At the level of graduate recruitment, your contacts and talent pool are a valuable asset. How do you form those relationships? By connecting early. Given the access to first year students, freshers’ fairs are an opportunity to foster positive student relationships and the start the process of longer term engagement. Put in place those interactions that build your pipeline – whether this is getting students to connect with you on social media or getting sign-ups for a mailing list so that you’re then able to get out important information and round up talent in the recruitment process. Grow your audience, invite interest and ensure that your future communications are effective in terms of encouraging students to think about their career opportunities.

Give sector-specific advice and guidance (and direct to further company resources)

At a freshers’ fair, first-year students can explore career paths and hone in on those that they are initially interested in. This is the space where first-year students are put in touch with the experts. Be a meaningful resource by equipping them with the basics: lay the groundwork in terms of your organisation and career paths, supporting these interactions with any relevant materials that you have on offer. Having this information circulated will raise further awareness of your opportunities, providing a more in-depth understanding of your industry from this early first engagement. From there, the seed is planted for future, sustained engagement. 

Make your opportunities visible

The freshers’ fair is the ideal platform to promote access to work experience and source early candidates for your summer internships and year-long placement opportunities. As discussed, there are multiple benefits to early engagement and many first-year students will need to consider eventual summer internships and placements. Direct work experience is necessary for a variety of career paths and, at the freshers’ fair, you can accommodate this need for students who are considering their future options.

Add to a culture of well-prepared candidates  

The importance of engaging first year students at freshers’ fairs to encourage them to start thinking about careers equates to creating a wider culture of well-prepared, informed candidates. In the long term, this is fantastic news for graduate recruits and recruiters alike. Those who are successfully engaged at freshers’ fairs are more likely to seek out the extracurricular activities that act as effective early training for the workplace. You can lead first-year students to seek out more experience, readying them to be the candidates that you’ve been looking for. Equally, you can encourage a target audience to attend future industry events that you are involved with.

Get involved with TARGETjobs

Of the 270,000 student members who signed up to TARGETjobs in in 2018, 13% of these were signed up at fresher’s fairs. Through our unique membership, they can discover graduate schemes and job vacancies, sign up to receive job alerts and use our expert content to help them explore their career options and support them with the job application process. Our other 87% of members were signed up through our unique multi-channel approach, including the TARGETjobs website, social media, our TARGETconnect university platform and TARGETjobs events.

Find out how we can help you connect with the top UK graduate talent on our website:

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