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Branding At Graduate Recruitment Events - What Kind Of Product Marketing Works?

Struggling to attract best university talent? Maybe you have a branding problem!

While researching on the topic, Career fairs are doomed, or are they?, Nicole Dessain, co-author of the upcoming book, Handbook of Human Resources Management, realised that 84% of companies participate in university career fairs most, compared to other company activities.

These graduate recruitment events offer the best hunting ground to hire top talent in a company.

So, Who Exactly Is The Target At These Events?

University graduates are hired most at recruitment events compared to interns, as Nicole found out. In fact, 84% of companies understand the importance of hiring college talent but are having a hard time attracting top talent.

Main reason:

92% of these companies believe that they have a brand problem.

Why Graduate Recruitment Events Matter For A Brand

An employer brand can influence how and who you attract, hire and retain as the top talent in a company.

It is no wonder that 98% of companies still believe on-campus fairs are still the best way to brand themselves with students, as reported in a NACE , 2013 survey.

Now that you know why these events matter to your brand, what’s the student psychology?

The Student Psychology: What Runs In Their Minds In Fairs?

Image via Pexels

Obviously, a student’s dream is to work with the best company, which offers great salary and prestige among peers. No wonder, when Collegefeed interviewed 15,000 millennials, comprising of both college students and graduates, companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google featured among their top preferences.


These companies have been regarded and marketed as best places to work in!

In addition to your market position and your prestige as a company, a student will also assess culture fit, career potential and work-life balance that you offer.

The image below shows us what students look at for in graduate recruitment events.

Image source: Hbr


You need to market to students by showing the company experience, as well as opportunities for career growth.

The Branding Problem In Recruitment Fairs

It is evident that students attend recruitment fairs with a pre-determined mind of what they need and will focus more on who checks out on their list.

It is for this reason, that according to NACE’s 2013 internship and Co-op survey career fairs constitute of more than half of an employer’s recruiting budget.

The big question is:

Have you also focused on great branding? Does your brand only stand out at a college event or you have an overall, year-round perception of your brand by the general population?

Why does that matter anyway?

To answer and guide you, CollegeFeed researchers asked college students how they hear about these companies.

Surprisingly, over 70% indicated that they first heard of a company through friends, while less than 50% heard of these companies on campus.


The root of your branding problem spreads beyond a recruitment fair. Work on your company’s general perception, then perfect your marketing at a recruitment fair, to attract the best talent.

Top Five Giveaways/ Promo Items

Just to quote John Corrigan, ‘nobody loves free stuff more than a college student’.

What this means:

In addition to a great brand perception by the general population, promo items are great marketing technique in graduate recruitment events. However, these giveaways ought to be useful because, 77% of consumers would take and keep a branded gift IF it were useful.

So, let’s look at top 3 promo items for a recruitment fair:

Canvas Tote Bag

While it may seem simple, a tote bag spells usefulness to any campus student. From carrying books, groceries to a few clothes for a weekend out, a tote bag is an obvious great giveaway.

Better yet, a student will advertise your company everywhere s/he goes with this bag. To top it all, a canvas tote bag positively affects your company reputation. The thought shows practicality and a commitment to sustainability, which is a big plus in this era of green business.

Smart wallet

This is very ideal because it is attached to the outside of any mobile device, and can store cash, driver’s license, gift cards and credit cards.

USB adapter

According to a study by Baylor University, female college students spend an average 10 hours per day on their cell phones while their male counterparts spend an average of 8 hours a day, on the same.

Image via Flickr

A power bank is a cherished gift by any college student.

So, What Next?

As we have discussed, college students are extremely sharp people who do their research before settling on an employer. While you might market yourself as the highest paying employer, the current college graduate is instead interested in work-life balance, conducive working environment and career growth opportunities that you offer.

This information gives you a great platform on how to market yourself at these events. To lure the best talent further, invest in promotional items that are practical, thoughtful and show commitment to a worthy cause.


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