Whenever times get tough, most companies start slashing their budgets creating new challenges for all of those who still believe in their strategies and that want to achieve their goals. This naturally springs from the challenge of having to do more with less. Recently the topic of attending career fairs or not has become of more relevance as some companies started withdrawing from this years’ spring events. Is cutting on career fairs a wise decision?
In a recent study by Universum, 36,71% of Swedish students, 19,85% of German students, 39,58% of American students, 22,57% of Russian students and 35,28% of British students, just to name a few examples, considered that career fairs is their preferred channel to know companies and to understand if a position might be of interest to them or not. In the light of these figures, it is easy to understand that students definitely value this type of event and companies withdrawing due to budgetary constraints might cause these companies more harm than benefit in the long run. In fact, based on historical data from 2001 to 2004, Universum has noticed that if a company pulls out from a campus, it will take 3 years of consecutive high visible presence to reach the employer brand awareness level previous to the withdrawal. So what can companies do in terms of career fairs in times when budgets are tighter?
One way is by knowing in which campuses the company needs to have high employer brand awareness so that graduates can easily be recruited to fill the company’s open positions. Based on recruitment needs, companies can label the different campuses by ranking their priority. Priority One campuses should always be the focus of a career fair – these are the primary sourcing campuses to keep the staff yield on the desired level. Priority Two campuses can be visited by alumni and have a classroom presentation, most likely with a case study of what is done at the company and how everyday tasks are addressed – this allows a very targeted and practical approach to enhance the current employer brand. Priority Three campus students should never be forgotten and addressed via effective communication tools, as for instance e-mail messages or e-zines promoting the company’s working environment and career paths.
If budgets have been slashed to the point that there isn’t enough room to participate in career fairs, companies can focus on organising full brand experiences at Priority One campuses – visiting them to give a general overview of what the company is: how is it to work there, who works there, what they produce / do and how they interact with the society. These full brand experiences allow HR departments to split the investment with other departments, such as Marketing, and can be achieved by working together with professors and by creating practical case studies to be presented during one lecture.
The economic turnaround will come very soon and companies that start to get ready now, by keeping their employer brand awareness level high and their human resources engaged and loyal to the company, will have a higher chance of owning a ticket to upcoming successes.