Are you ready to brave the corridors of the careers fair? Shimmying past a myriad of stands collecting highly sought-after branded stationery and coasters - all the while making a mental shortlist that may well define the first step in your career?
Don't worry, we’ve all been there. We know its hectic, and that’s why we design our involvement in careers fairs with care, and make sure we can make it a positive experience.
Getting it right at a careers fair
We consistently get great feedback from fairs because we test our approach and think through every detail. We hold workshops with our interns each year, we ask interviewees, we have retrospectives with everyone here who was involved. And we use all this to adjust our approach for the better.
Let's take a moment to consider the user experience of a young graduate attending a careers fair. First, we must know who we are designing for, so here is a taste:
We can make generic statements about how our user group think and behave in this scenario:
We can use market research, for example generational differences:
And we can get more specific and segment by behaviour, for example by how pro-active students are about recruitment events:
Personableness, Problem-solving, and Popcorn
So we can know as much about our users as we can research - and appreciating the experience of the ‘end user’ helps us easily see potential solutions, and helps us stay human-centred.
And just like Jakob Nielsen's law of internet user experience, users will spend much more time at other people's stands. So trucking out the same sales pitches is not going to work:
The key for us was that the core of what we do is not the clients we work for, its not the tech we use, and its not the sectors we work in. It's incredibly cheesy to say that 'its about the people' - but for us work is people solving problems together - that is what we do every day. We realised all of our ethos and policies and processes are geared towards supporting collaborative tackling of problems. So why not put this at the forefront of our recruitment?
A short, easy-to-understand but difficult to solve problem is the 'killer feature' of our careers fair offering. The more we have been doing this at fairs, the more useful we have realised it is. Students are talking to so many people and looking at so many companies in one day - you really need to be engaging to stand out and prolong the memory afterwards. There is also the ice-breaker effect. Starting a conversation with someone new is hard, and starting off by talking directly about you or them makes it all the more difficult. When there is a neutral and interesting conversation piece this diffuses all tension, and allows the participants to feel at ease and equal in the conversation.
A number of other principles started to materialise:
- Good impressions from enthusiastic people
- Engaging minds with a problem to solve
- Takeaways with easy follow-ups so that the memory is not lost
- And handing out popcorn is always a winner!
So that's who we are! Look out for us, ask us anything, and prime your brain to tackle this year's problem! We will publish the problem in our next blog post so that everyone can have a go.
Where to find us
This year we will be in Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Warwick - details are on our Facebook group.
Whilst we can only attend some careers fairs, we are open to applications from others! Apply here if you like what you see.
To give you a taste - and maybe some inspiration of what to ask us about - here is a cut-down video about life at Ghyston: