Career fairs are an excellent opportunity for you to share your company story and job openings, but they also require time and effort, and you may be missing chances to connect with students in meaningful ways. Thankfully, with the right preparation, you can foster relationships with students, showcase your work-based learning and job shadow experiences, and even highlight careers and sponsorships – all before the career fair has even started. Then, students will seek you out during the fair, with many already curious about your offerings and eager to learn more. 

Here are seven tips for making the most of a career fair – before you go: 

1. Sign up early.

Be proactive and make a list early in the academic year of career fairs in your region. Sign up early to host a booth, lead a breakout session, or speak. The earlier you are signed up, the easier it is to prepare.

2. Join the Compass Employer Connections Database.

One way to stay informed of area career fairs is to register your business for a free Compass account and join the Employer Connections Database. By indicating you’d like to participate in career fairs, area schools will contact you when they are planning events. They will be excited to have you on the list and you don’t have to go searching for schools.

3. Post job shadowing or work-based learning experiences.

You can also reach students before career fairs and drive interest in your company by sharing work-based learning experiences (including internships, apprenticeships, and mentorships) within Compass. These opportunities enable students to interact directly with your company and build skills for future roles. Compass integrates with RUReady, a state-wide career preparation program that is already available to all North Dakota students.  

We recommend posting these opportunities at least one week before a career fair to give schools and students time to view them in the classroom, although more time is better. This allows them to pick out their favorites, think about questions they may have, and increase the chances they will look for your company during the fair.

4. Consider posting career profiles and sponsorships.

To foster even more connections before career fairs, you can share career profiles and sponsorships on Compass through a paid Compass membership. Career profiles, whether for a current opening or information only, let students know what it’s really like to work at your company. Sponsorships help support students with postsecondary tuition in exchange for a work agreement. Both are excellent opportunities to connect during a fair.

5. Prepare easy ways to engage students.

Handouts and freebies, such as stress balls and candy, might be great for getting students to approach your career fair table, but they don’t necessarily keep them engaged. As you prepare for a career fair, think about hands-on, interactive activities that students would enjoy while also learning something about your company and careers. Demonstrate the use of a product, bring small and safe tools for students to try out, or create a simple game about your company with prizes.

6. Make it easy for students to follow up with you during and after the fair.

Encourage students to apply for job shadowing and work-based learning experiences during the fair. At your booth, provide handouts with a listing of available opportunities as well as a link or QR code to take them directly to the postings within Compass. If you are a paid Compass member, you can customize one of our free Canva templates. You can encourage students to access Compass on their phones, find your listings, and favorite them for later. It’s also nice to have a laptop or tablet available so students can quickly and easily view your offerings.

7. Plan to speak in a way students will understand.

As you think about sharing your company’s story and details about career roles, plan to do so without using industry jargon, overly technical descriptions, or making assumptions. Find clear, engaging ways of painting a picture of what your company does, how students might see themselves working there, and what skills will help them in that role. Be familiar with Holland Codes, the six-letter personality trait codes that are associated with your available careers. Students use those codes within their Compass profiles and know how to compare them with possible careers. Also, be familiar with the 16Personalities personality types and traits that fit best with your available careers, as students use those within Compass as well. All of this will make it easy for students to understand your careers and how they relate to their own skills and interests.

Taking the right steps to prepare for a career fair will increase your opportunities to meaningfully connect with students and stay in communication beyond the event. They will better understand your offerings and how they might fit in at your company, and you will be actively building your future workforce. It’s a win-win. 

For more information about Compass and how it can help your company before, during, and after career fairs, contact