3 action items career services should do now to engage employers this fall amid COVID-19

Expert Insight

3 action items career services should do now to engage employers this fall amid COVID-19

The sight of students in business professional clothes clamoring at the doors of a career fair will be but a distant memory for career services leaders and employer recruiters this fall. With physical distancing measures and employer travel suspensions in place for some time to come, career services must be ready to facilitate virtual connections between students and employers for career fairs and other activities.

As the fall draws nearer, many employers report feeling left in the dark about career services’ plans. Here are three imperatives for career services leaders to immediately develop and communicate fall plans to employer partners:

Communicate changes to fall career fairs to employers now

Employers are already planning full steam ahead for a very different fall recruitment season. They are eager for immediate information about the following to align their recruiting plans with career services offerings: 

  • Modality and structure: Will career fairs be held online, in-person, or in a hybrid format? Will there be one general fair or multiple, smaller fairs organized around industries or themes?
  • Schedule: Will the career fair be on one day or over multiple days? How long will the career fair last for? How will timing look different from previous in-person career fairs? For instance, some institutions are increasing the length and number of virtual career fairs to allow students and employers to interact in a more intimate setting. Additionally, adjusted career fair schedules can help increase access given new and different time constraints in the virtual world.
  • Virtual platform and format: Which virtual platform(s) will be used for career fairs, and how will employers engage with students? Employers need time to consider the available formats—video, chat, etc.—and the number of students they can interact with ahead of training their teams on the various platforms they will be using to engage with students.
  • Fees: How much will employers be charged to participate? How many representatives are covered by the fee? While fees are an essential component of career services budgets, many employers are expecting discounts or other accommodations for the virtual format.

Think beyond recruiting to engage your employer partners

Some employers are currently unable to recruit student talent for jobs and internships, but are still eager to build and maintain their brands and relationships with students. Present employers with a menu of non-recruiting engagement opportunities for the fall and beyond to make it easy for them to remain involved. These opportunities could include employer panels, industry panels, mock interviews, virtual site visits, and student professional development activities centered around topics such as design thinking, project management, how to be a remote employee, and navigating cultural and social dynamics in the workplace.

Update your website to reflect virtual offerings this fall

Your career services website is usually the first place employer partners turn to for information about fall recruiting and other engagement activities. Ensure your website displays the most current menu of virtual opportunities for employers to participate in and relevant details about how to participate. Include all information for career fairs listed under action item #1 and the menu of non-recruiting activities listed under action item #2. Remove any activities or offerings that are cancelled or otherwise unavailable due to COVID-19. Consider adding an FAQ or COVID-19 update specific to employers on the employer section of your website to address common questions about the operating status of the career center and fall activities.

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