It’s easy to feel like you could have said more during these conversations. I wonder what I did or didn’t say. I want to respect the discernment process while encouraging students toward volunteering. How can I find that balance without “sound biting” CVN programs? I remind myself that many students feel overwhelmed with fairs and further the prospective of exploring our 200+ programs.
Nevertheless, I have found three key tactics to engaging students in meaningful conversations at fairs:
- Tell them
who you are, but don’t be afraid to get to the point. During a conversation
with a program director at a recent fair, I learned that she struggled with
attracting students to her program due to its geographic location. She later
told me that over 50% of volunteers who participate in a year-long commitment
are employed by the end of their service. I immediately thought, how do you not
lead with this? It’s important to share your mission and vision, but things
like job security or geographic location can shift a student’s perspective of
post-grad service with your organization. They will listen more attentively to
what you say to them.
- Students appreciate when you affirm them for
feeling overwhelmed or confused. In some cases, I have met students who
know exactly what they want to do and where they want to go. But many still
have that look of “I have no idea!” You know, that girl who clenches her
RESPONSE directory and all other program collateral a healthy distance from
having to actually communicate with a recruiter. Part of this comes from a fear
of being locked into a program. The other part comes from an overwhelming lack
of direction and 20 tables in a room isn’t their ideal situation for exploring
options. This makes recruiter affirmations that much more invaluable. A simple
“it’s ok if you have no idea what you want to do” or “you don’t have to make
your decision today” goes a long way and creates a comfortable space for
students to ask questions.
- Read their non-verbal signs. Body language is my guide to starting a conversation with a student. There are some who walk right in, grab a directory and start talking to each and every recruiter or stand by your table even when you are talking with another student. There are others who slowly move from table to table grabbing information and observing conversations from a distance. These students won’t make eye contact or they will keep their body turned away as they prefer to independently explore options.
Every student is different with her or his goals when attending a career fair. Recruiters find the flow that works for them and their program’s needs. These three tips are sure to get you on the right track to finding your recruitment.