In a recent live webinar, Ben Pekarek, senior Electrical Engineering student and President of the Purdue Engineer Student Council (PESC), joined Dave Nicol, co-founder and CEO of Career Fair Plus, to answer customer questions about how PESC uses "Meetings" to connect over 400 employers with 12,000 students every year! (Note: transcript edited for readability.)
The Purdue Student Engineer Council (PESC) hosts an annual recruiting event for 400+ employers and approximately 14,000 students. They utilize the Career Fair Plus “Meetings” feature for in-person 1:1 meetings between recruiters and students at the event. Students love skipping the line, and employers love pre-vetting the students they meet. Employers purchase Meetings as an add-on purchase during employer registration. As a bonus, the drive to reserve the (typically) 10-minute sessions with in-demand companies escalates interest and bookings for lesser-known organizations.
CHOOSE & CLICK
- Introducing Career Forge, software exclusively for Career Services
- Using "Meetings" to Deliver Meaningful Employer-Student Connections
- You had how many employers and students at your career event?
- 43 years of the PESC Industrial Roundtable in (mostly) three paragraphs
- And along came 2020
- Why employers want the CF+ Meetings feature
- Some staggering numbers
- Introducing the CF+ Meetings feature to your employers
- How do you tell students about Meetings?
- Do employers balk at the additional fee to use Meetings?
- Have you considered not offering the CF+ Meetings feature at future events?
- It’s all about the students
- Words to the Wise (i.e., career services teams considering enabling Meetings)
- The three C’s that create A+ recruiting events
- Live Q&A
Thanks for meeting us here to read the inaugural Webinar Write-up Series from Career Fair Plus (CF+) and Career Forge.
Wait, what’s Career Forge?
You read it right, and if you attended the "Engineering In-person Recruiting Wins" webinar, you saw the CF+ and Career Forge brands on the virtual backgrounds. Here's why.
Introducing Career Forge, software exclusively for Career Services
Career Forge launched in March and is the only network designed for career services to support event management, advising, experiential learning, first destination & outcomes, intuitive reporting, employer relationship management, and job board engagement. The stand-alone Career Forge | ERM premiered to rave reviews and thank yous from CS teams fed up with managing employer relations with clunky spreadsheets and bloated CRMs.
The cornerstone Career Forge product is a long-overdue direct competitor to Handshake, Simplicity, and 12Twenty! Anticipated release is within 9-12 months, but you can secure your spot in the advance notice group now. Sign up for the CF+ newsletter for Career Forge | ERM product upgrades and advance release announcements.
Now you're caught up: the expert developers and phenomenal support teams behind your favorite event-hosting platform, CF+, are building the industry-changing product suite Career Forge. Eventually, you'll see a name change from CF+ to Career Forge, but only a name change. We're all in on giving you what event hosts need: an intuitive, feature-rich platform to connect employers with qualified applicants at hybrid, virtual, and in-person recruiting programs.
After one quick shameless plug for the Event Registration module, your newest CF+ feature upgrade, it's time to engineer recruiting wins with another CF+ advantage, "Meetings."
Using "Meetings" to Deliver Meaningful Employer-Student Connections
You had how many employers and students at your career event?
"When we saw the data coming out of the Purdue Engineering Student Council (PESC) Industrial Round Table (IR) event, we said we gotta have a conversation," shared webinar host Dave Nicol, CF+ co-founder and CEO.
Ben Pekarek, PESC president, told us how PESC uses CF+, specifically the "Meetings" feature, to drive in-person engagement. I asked if he'd share their successes on a live Q&A webinar.
Fortunately for all of us, Ben agreed, so let's start with a brief introduction to the Industrial Round Table and how the format and results have changed over time.
Ben: Yeah, of course. I'm Ben Pekarek, and I'm happy to be here with you and CF+, sharing how we've integrated Meetings into our career fairs for better employer and student experiences.
As Dale said, I'm the President of the Purdue Engineering Student Council and a senior electrical engineering student. PESC is a student organization with approximately 40 Purdue undergraduate engineering students–most of whom are active from joining as first-year students through graduation. Along with hosting the university's two major career fairs, PESC also:
- Supports Career Services good work preparing engineering students for their professional lives
- Brings the Purdue student body together
- Promotes mental health initiatives
- Welcomes area school kids on campus to learn about engineering
All of these activities are fun and rewarding. As for the IR, it's a three-day annual career fair held the second week of September. We host two in-person days followed by a virtual day. We also host virtual information sessions the week before the career fair and on-site information sessions the day before IR starts. All this adds up to about two weeks of just nose-to-the-grindstone for our 40 PESC members.
43 years of the PESC Industrial Roundtable in (mostly) three paragraphs
Dave: How long have you been part of the IR career fair since freshman year?
Ben: Yes, I joined PESC my freshman year. I'm really proud that we give ownership to first-year students right away. In my first year, they put me in charge of the information sessions before the Industrial roundtable. It was all on me to manage the 150 employers wanting to offer information sessions. Obviously, I had mentors at the time that really helped me figure it out. And the amazing people at Purdue's Center for Career Opportunities were a big help in navigating those waters.
I became the director of the industrial roundtable career fair in my sophomore year. This whole fair operates with just seven undergrads: usually, one sophomore leads, and six freshmen do most of the groundwork. Now, as President, I oversee the fair and our other initiatives. I've been hooked since the start. It's a lot of fun.
And along came 2020
Dave: Tell us about your first IR overseeing the event. Was there anything unusual about that year's event vs. previous IRs?
Ben: Yeah, of course. So, my first year as IR Fair Director was our first year entirely in-person since 2019.
A big thing with us as a student organization is transferring knowledge from member to member. So, I'm helping this year's IR Director, giving her my lessons and two cents. But, considering that the last year we operated at this scale was 2019, there wasn't anyone around for me to ask those questions when I was the IR Director. So, that year, we were figuring it out as we went. It was more like flying by the seat of our pants. But it allowed us to do some things that were different but also innovative. And we got to explore things from new angles without the usual direct pass down of experience and knowledge.
Dave: Gotcha. And in the year before, that was entirely virtual, right?
Ben: The year before, it was still a hybrid event with only one in-person day. Students had to have meetings booked through the CF+ app because we had to limit the number of students allowed in the career fair area at a given time. Even though it was on-site, it was essentially a virtual fair because only one person at a time could be in the space with the recruiter--for their 10-minute appointment. PESC also had to ensure the students at the employers' booths were supposed to be there at that time based on the meeting schedule. Now multiply that by the 100 employers on campus at that time, and it was a lot of coordinating.
Dave: To clarify, PESC went from hosting a virtual career fair to a meeting-based hybrid program to an in-person event, right? And this evolution, because of the pandemic, meant that when you joined PESC, the IR was meetings-based. Is that accurate?
Ben: Yes. For every career fair during my first two years at Purdue, we booked a meeting, waited, and then got online when the time slot came up.
Dave: Interesting. And what did you think of that? What did your fellow students think of that?
Ben: So, there are pros and cons from students' perspectives. The big pro is you are not standing in a line. You know, exactly when you'll have face time with an employer. And because first-year students have to book meetings with employers open to talking to them, they know they'll have face-to-face time with recruiters. Many employers automatically turn freshmen away. And so those are the two big pros: I know this person wants to talk to me and that they're available to speak with me.
The big con is that the throughput for employers is very low on the virtual day of the IR, at least from what I've heard. The employers I've talked to typically can't offer enough appointments to accommodate the number of students wanting to speak with them. Students see this as a disadvantage because the available meeting times fill up too quickly, leaving them without the opportunity to talk with the high-priority employer at the top of their target list.
Why employers want the CF+ Meetings feature
Dave: You mention one of the cons for employers; what else have you heard from them about Meetings, the virtual format, the hybrid element, and how you're doing the IR now?
Ben: So the big thing that we hear about offering CF+ Meetings, and why we continue offering the schedules feature as an add-on at registration, is that it guarantees employers will connect with students that meet their recruiting and employment requirements. We hear that from companies participating in our on-site, virtual, and hybrid days.
Employers like Tesla can have three-hour lines at their booths. Recruiters know many, or most, won't meet recruiting requirements, so they want to filter through that long line. It's no one's fault; each company has different qualifications and recruiting goals for the event. It's a "some of the students in line might be ready in a couple of years, but not today" perspective.
Meetings assure our employers that at 2:10 p.m., for example, they're speaking to someone who meets the company’s GPA or major requirements. During that reserved meeting, the general recruiter can easily direct the student to the specific team for their engineering specialty. So that's the big pro for employers.
The big challenge for them is remembering to log in to the CF+ app or web portal two weeks beforehand and make those schedules, which we'll discuss later. Managing that "con" takes a lot of PESC labor hours to badger them into.
Another con of not using Meetings is forcing employers to manage the lines, including preventing students from trying to skip the line to confirm their appointment times. Without the Meetings feature and the schedules that show each student's name and reserved appointment, Recruiters wouldn't have any way of verifying whether or not someone cutting the line and claiming to have an appointment is on the recruiter's schedule.
Some staggering numbers
Dave: How many students attend the IR in the fall and the Spring Expo?
Ben: For the industrial roundtable, you're looking at about 12,000-15,000. It's tough to count because we don't require students to register. We used to, but in 2019, it took two weeks of very long lines to get students to sign up, so we determined it wasn't worth the manpower, especially when we were just restarting the in-person events in 2022. So, 12,000-15,000 is our estimate.
Dave: And how many of those attendees do you estimate booked meetings?
Ben: I’ll answer that with our CF+ dashboard from the Industrial Roundtable Fall 2022 In-Person days:
How do you tell students about Meetings?
Dave: Wow, a significant number of your students benefit from using their CF+ app accounts to reserve meetings! Additionally, from the data I've seen, there could be more, except sometimes those really high-demand employers' schedules fill up, so there aren't enough available meetings. Is that correct?
Ben: Yeah, I would say so. Our general marketing strategy around promoting Meetings is sending concise emails to keep students' attention. And if they see a brick of text, they will click off the email and not read it.
So we send these short emails with the names of high-demand employers like Tesla, John Deere, Meta, and similar companies hosting Meetings in bold. The darker font brings their eye to the content, and they see that all the Meeting spots go live on September 1st at 7 a.m. Then they add that to their calendars and know they must wake up early on September 1st to reserve an available meeting time. Those in-demand slots generally fill up within the first two minutes, during which we see a massive surge. Then, it tapers off as students realize the schedules for their target employers are full.
Timeline of meetings booked for PESC Fall 2022 Industrial Roundtable In-Person Days
Introducing the CF+ Meetings feature to your employers
Dave: So one of the things you've shared with me is that the demand for Meetings comes primarily from your employers. You mentioned a couple of the big names insistent you activate the Meetings feature so they can do what you talked about--ensuring their recruiters connect with students who fulfill the company's minimum criteria. Is that true?
Ben: Yeah, yeah. So, I worked at John Deere for the past few summers. So, I have a good relationship with their recruiters. And they've selected the Meetings add-on since we started offering the option. It's a huge recruiting advantage and time saver for them. They're one of those employers with multi-hour lines, so it's great for their recruiters to know, "I have this kid with these qualifications coming up at 3 p.m."
We're in Indiana and have a huge agricultural program at Purdue. Every first-year ag student thinks, "I'm going to talk to John Deere at IR and tell them I've been on their equipment all my life." The recruiters know, so Meetings is a crucial filter for them.
Dave: Right. So, I want to come back to marketing to students. But while we're on this employer track, I'd love to talk about how you present this to employers and what that process looks like. We know there's a history of offering Meetings at PESC events, but every year potentially brings new recruiters and new employers who don't know about Meetings. So, please walk us through communication to registration. What does that whole process from start to finish look like on the employer's side regarding Meetings?
Ben: Since our IR career fair registration opens in May, we send all our employer contacts a 16-page registration packet in April. The package tells them everything they need to know about the IR, including pricing. We want them to know what to look for when registering.
One of those 16 pages explains everything about the CF+ platform, including which additional features we're enabling, like Meetings. The overview paragraph describes what it is and how recruiters can use it to pre-qualify students according to employer prerequisites and guarantee they'll meet students fitting the criteria.
Since we expect 12,000-15,000 student attendees, we remind employers that they should consider adding Meetings to their event registration. It's $150 above the base fee and, according to demand, a manageable rate to ensure meeting qualified students. The line item literally says, "I would like students to be able to book meetings with me at the career fair." And that's really all we tell the employers.
It's on employers and recruiters to go through that packet and find their registration options, including Meetings. It's also on them to click that button when signing up for the career fair. And frankly, we take that approach because we saw such a huge response for Meetings.
Administering Meetings is a lot of work on our end because so many employers purchase it and then need to remember to set up their schedules. This leaves us scrambling, trying to get them to upload their schedule before the deadline. So, we decided we'll absolutely enable Meetings, but we're not broadcasting it, and we're charging an extra $150 fee. They might think twice about selecting it if there's a cost.
We're not anti-Meetings. It's not our goal to have 400+ employers add on the feature because it's so much back-end work, especially at the last minute. So, it's not as if we're doing targeted marketing about Meetings. We include it in the event reference material, and it shows up as a registration add-on option. That's all employers see from us about Meetings until they purchase it. Then, we share more specific information about what we'll need from them.
Dave: So, you're including the Meetings option as an add-on during registration to ensure recruiters see it. So that if they miss it in the IR information packet, they'll catch it during sign-up. The packet is your lead-in, but registration is the real hook, right?
Ben: Yeah, yeah, we just make selecting Meetings a required question: "Yes, I want Meetings" or. "No, I don't want Meetings." We also clarify that Meetings is an additional charge.
Do employers balk at the additional fee to use Meetings?
Dave: You’ve told me employers don’t complain about the additional $150 fee to use Meetings. Let’s talk about how many of your 400 IR employers typically select Meetings and why the cost doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Ben: Abot 120 in 2022.
Dave: So roughly 30% of employers selected Meetings. And many of those are the big brands that want to pre-qualify the students they want to ensure they'll meet. Or at least students that match specific recruiting criteria like GPA or major, correct?
Ben: That's right, most big brands choose add-on Meetings during registration, but smaller companies also benefit, especially if they're recruiting for specific roles. If recruiters know how to use it, they can effectively target seniors for full-time jobs. That's usually the focus for companies using Meetings.
Dave: Charging for Meetings conveys the add-on feature is valuable; it's not a throwaway freebie, right? And that makes employers say, "Yes, we'll pay for it; we want that added value which generates a bit of revenue. But, going behind the scenes, you told us that the amount of work you put into producing Meetings doesn't match the income and that it's still a lot of work to make it successful.
Ben: We started charging because managing this takes a lot of effort, even with a team of 40 student volunteers. The key is getting employers to submit schedules on time. We aim to have all employer schedules ready before students can book. During the COVID year, students were stuck refreshing pages waiting for employer schedules, which isn't fair. So, we spend a lot of time reminding employers to fill out their schedules.
Dave: It sounds like that back-end work is simple but time-consuming, right? One of the things that people might take away is to have student volunteers help lighten the load on their Career Center staff organizing the career fair or recruiting event.
Ben: Guiding employers often involves a phone call and a Career Fair Plus system walk-through. It's simple to train volunteers to do this; just use a dummy account for practice. We offer a paid service to set up employer schedules if we can't reach them to ensure schedules are ready before students can book appointments.
Have you considered not offering the CF+ Meetings feature at future events?
Dave: So, knowing that offering Meetings can be a lot of work for you if the employers do not set up their schedules, did you hesitate or consider not offering it for the 2023 IR career fair?
Ben: Nope. Adrian, who runs the IR with me, and I never considered hosting without the Meetings option as an add-on at registration. We considered charging more for the feature but decided to keep things constant to test demand. Last year saw high usage, likely because it was familiar after COVID. We chose to keep things as is to see if demand changed with time or staff turnover in HR departments.
Dave: So, you never said, "We might not offer Meetings next year." You knew the value to students and employers was worth it, right?
Ben: Yes. The IR is like a block party with a massive crowd. Enabling Meetings cuts down stress for everyone. Employers know they'll meet at least 30 qualified candidates–or however many meeting times they open to students–without wading through thousands of people waiting in lines during the on-site days. Adrian and I saw the value and decided to continue with this approach.
It’s all about the students
Getting their attention
Dave: Great. Let's pivot to the student side. Bringing students and employers together is crucial. So, how do you spread the word about IR, especially among first-year students, transfer students, or others who need to learn about the annual career fair?
Ben: In the first week of freshmen engineering classes, our reps explain the career fair's importance for landing jobs and internships at Purdue. We then send two or three emails to all engineering students. Our first email goes out a week before appointments open, telling students, "Industrial roundtable appointments open September 1st at 7 a.m." We focus on short, impactful emails to capture the limited attention spans of today's students.
Continuing from our first major email, we typically send a follow-up around August 24-25 to remind students that schedules open on September 1st. This email includes a few brief paragraphs highlighting key employers and mentioning long lines from last year as a reason to sign up early. We also provide direct links to the Career Plus system for easy sign-up and a video walk-through explaining the importance of securing an appointment.
After those initial emails, we closely monitor the click-through rates and sign-ups. If Meetings numbers are high, we don't inundate students with more emails about appointments. If needed, we're open to sending additional reminders. A week before the fair starts, and again the day before, we send comprehensive emails covering all the event details. However, appointments only get spotlighted in that first crucial email.
We open meeting sign-ups at 7 a.m. to level the playing field for all students. Classes at Purdue kick off at 7:30 a.m. and run until 5:30 p.m., followed by extracurriculars. At 7 a.m., most students are free. So, if you're gunning for that coveted Tesla slot, you can set your alarm for 6:55 a.m., snag the appointment, and hit snooze again.
Dave: Great information, thanks, Ben. To summarize, driving student engagement comes down to timely, targeted messages. You spotlight in-demand companies like Tesla or John Deere a week before the scheduling window opens. Students rush to book those, and while they're at it, they often schedule meetings with lesser-known brands, too. It's a ripple effect that drives demand across the board. By offering the opportunity to reserve 1:1 meetings with recruiters from in-demand employers, you're also positioning students to view other companies' profiles and published Meeting schedules. They benefit from scrolling through and thinking about booking more meetings with other recruiters they might not have considered connecting with if they weren't already in the CF+ app.
Ben: Without a doubt. We wouldn’t see bookings on those other employers' schedules, at least not as many, if students weren’t already in the CF+ app. Students don't go looking for those time slots like they do Tesla or Google. What happens is someone books Tesla and then says to themselves, "I'm an electrical engineer, so I'm gonna go talk to Keysight, too. They're not as big a name on campus, but they're still a cool company and associated with my major. And when I filter by my major, they pop up, too."
Also, if an employer is hosting a pre-IR information session or multiple sessions, those events are listed in the CF+ app, too. So when students discover the Tesla 1:1 meetings are full, they see the opportunity to register for a Tesla information session. Being able to RSVP for the pre-IR event takes some of the sting out of not getting a 1:1 meeting. That drives attendance at our information sessions as well.
Companies with the most group meeting schedules at the PESC 2022 Industrial Roundtable
Dave: So Meetings becomes a part of a larger strategy within CF+ to ensure students see when employers are available and sign up in advance for chances to meet recruiters or attend information sessions instead of waiting until the day before the fair to open up Career Fair plus, and see who's attending the IR or Spring Expo.
Ben: Right. And it’s cool because we’ll see that activity graph in CF+ two weeks ahead of the fair, showing 5,000 people registered for this event. That's a good feeling, and we know, "Okay, there will be good quality candidates here; our employers will meet good quality candidates and vice versa. As fair organizers, that helps us sleep a lot easier at night, knowing we've got kids interested, that's nice for us.
Words to the Wise (i.e., career services teams considering enabling Meetings)
Dave: What advice for career center staff that wants to enable Meetings? Maybe they've taken a break from hosting in-person meetings since COVID and want to reintroduce that format. What tips do you have about getting your toe in the water again–perhaps starting with Meetings and using more of what CF+ offers?
Ben: Yeah. So, I actually have documentation on how PESC operated this fair going back 40 years. We've been CF+ customers for a while, so when you introduced Meetings, we immediately reached out to our big-name employers at the time and asked, "Hey, would you be interested in using Meetings as a sort of skip-the-line feature?
John Deere was onboard right away. We have a good relationship with them, and students are very interested in their company, so it was a good test case. I'd suggest contacting your larger, more popular employers to see if there's interest. If in-demand companies publish Meetings, you're starting with the top-tier employers in students' minds, the really coveted roles. So, my advice is to get a few in-demand employers onboard the first time you enable Meetings for an in-person career fair. This is a great way to experience the system and only have to manage a few employers. I think in our first year enabling the Meetings feature, we offered it to five employers.
So, the back-end workload for the event hosts to ensure five schedules are published and populated before the fair is essentially negligible. Testing Meetings with a few of your employers is a great way to determine if students want the chance to book 1:1 meetings. Will they download the app and create an account to know they have a guaranteed 1:1 with specific employers? If yes, and you find it is worth it, offer Meetings to other employers at your next event, or you can even go all out like PESC and make it a general offering.
Companies with the most 1:1 schedules at the 2022 PESC Industrial Roundtable
Dave: That’s great, and yeah, choosing a handful of high-demand employers students want to meet is a good starting point. Even if you introduce it during registration, maybe limit the number of available Meetings available to purchase, too. For example, there are 10 Meetings add-ons, and after that, it shows "sold out" in the registration system. That could be a really good way to get the message out there and create demand for upcoming events where you can offer Meetings.
I personally like the idea of adding value to it by putting a price on it. I think associating a cost helps employers see it as something they shouldn't ignore. Their mind says, "If there's a price associated with this, it must be worth something, maybe I should pay attention to it."
I really liked the way that offering Meetings compounds by getting students' attention and engaging with the fair more than three days before the event.
Ben: Right. So I think that's all really good, and considering how large our Industrial Roundtable is, I think Meetings helps a lot because it gets students into the CF+ platform and more comfortable sorting through roles or available meetings based on prerequisites like major and by GPA. Then, come IR day, we don't have 100 people lined up at our tent asking, "How do I find this employer?" They’ve already had the app for a couple of weeks and had to navigate it to book their meetings. And so they remember, "Oh, I just click on the map, there's the employer's location. Creating the opportunity to create meetings also gets students familiar with the CF+ app and our IR system before the fair starts.
The three C’s that create A+ recruiting events
Dave: You've emphasized three C's: Confidence for students, confidence for employers, and competence for organizers.
First, students using the CF+ app can walk into a career fair knowing exactly who they'll meet and what to discuss. With pre-scheduled talks, they can prep and make the most of those golden 10 minutes with potential employers. This kind of prep work skyrockets their confidence.
Then you've got the employers. They're not sifting through resumes all day or talking to unqualified candidates. They're meeting with the cream of the crop, people who fit their needs. This makes the whole process efficient and boosts their confidence in the event.
Finally, let's not forget the unsung heroes: the organizers. Knowing that attendees are genuinely interested and prepared takes a huge weight off their shoulders. It assures them that the event won't be a flop.
So, it sounds like CF+ is a game-changer all around. It elevates student experiences, makes life easier for employers, and lowers stress levels for organizers. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!
Ben: Absolutely. On the event day, the last thing you want is added stress. What stands out with CF+ is its seamless operation. You set it, forget it, and it runs itself. There are no last-minute scrambles or headaches. So not only does it enhance the experience for everyone involved, it also serves as a stress reliever for organizers. It's like having an extra pair of hands, making sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Dave: You set it and forget it. That's great. I see questions waiting, so let’s get to them.
Question: CF+ works great for near-seniors in high-demand majors networking with big-name companies. But what about students who don't fit that perfect profile? How does CF+ serve those interested in smaller, less recognizable companies? Isn't there a concern that the platform leans too heavily toward employer needs, possibly sidelining students who don't fit the "ideal" mold?
Ben: Yeah, that's a great question. And that's always something we have to balance. Yes, the Meetings feature, at least as PESC offers it, is very useful to the big employers only interested in the cream of the crop. However, the big advantage for our students is they still use the CF+ app, whether or not they fit recruiters’ ideal candidate profile perfectly. And when they're signed in, they see all of the employers very interested in talking to them because they fit the prerequisites those employers post with their Meetings schedules.
Whether or not it is these big companies, the opportunity to book appointments generally draws students to the platform. And once they're in the IR event on the app, they can easily match their credentials to specific employers' requirements. Booking meetings is an excellent tool for students who want to learn about a company, ask questions, and build relationships.
While I talk about the big companies and how they get students to the event and into the CF+ app, there are very small companies with only one or two meeting schedules that are almost or completely booked. Students choose these spots because instead of the "Oh, two minutes, look at the resume, put it down," they get the recruiter's undivided attention for 10 minutes. And so you get the opportunity to form relationships. And it's a great way to see who's interested in their organization, especially for the recruiters representing smaller companies. They know which students did their research and who woke up at 7 a.m. two weeks ago to reserve a ten-minute meeting time.
So no, I don't think Meetings serves big companies exclusively; everyone can find value in adding the feature to their in-person events.
CF+: Another perk of the CF+ Meetings feature is how it specifically helps neurodivergent students. These appointments guarantee one-on-one time, usually in a quieter location away from the main booth. They often feel more comfortable and better equipped to learn and ask questions in this setting. Unlike approaching a recruiter in a crowd and competing for attention, these 1:1 meetings ensure the recruiter focuses solely on them.
Question: "Are you always using the resume drop function at your events?
Ben: Great question about the Resume Drop feature. We aren't now, but employers tell me they're already sorting through so much due to the high volume of students at the fair.
Big employers often have their systems for collecting resumes, and some smaller companies value a physical copy. It shows the student was engaged and took the time to bring a printed copy to the event. So, the IR is large; the Resume Drop feature doesn't fit our mold precisely.
(Update: PESC enabled Resume Drop for their 2023 Industrial Roundtable roundtable. For fun, guess how many resumes recruiters received, then read the upcoming blog in Newsletter 17. Save your guess or email firstname.lastname@example.org–maybe we’ll find something in the prize closet for whoever is closest without going over 🎁!)
CF+: But here's the thing: events differ, whether it's a massive engineering fair or a smaller School of Accountancy fair. What's fantastic about CF+ is the flexibility. You can tailor the features to match the culture and needs of your specific student body. Career Services teams can choose which features make sense for their student culture.
Question: So, the big companies are the draw, and then the eyes on the platform lead to traffic for the smaller companies, right?
Ben: Again, very succinctly summarizing my rambling answer. I appreciate it.
CF+ And another clarification. You said 5,000 students book Meetings, but 12,000-15,000 attend the IR. That means there are a lot of other interactions happening outside of meetings. So reserving 1:1 time isn’t the only way to talk to an employer and even a Tesla or a John Deere; it's one of the ways to talk to them. Recruiters still have walk-up lines and might speak to 10 first-year students who didn't book a meeting, hoping to identify one valuable candidate. Is that true?
Ben: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We do not use meetings exclusively. It is just one way we guarantee employers will meet some of their high-quality candidates. Meetings is part of a larger strategy to get the best possible career fair outcomes.
Question: Do you know the average amount of time students spend at the in-person part of IR? If a student usually stays two or three hours at an event, are they reserving 1:1 meetings to meet more recruiters during a small time window, or are they booking Meetings to get direct time with those employers?
Ben: Most students typically spend around two hours at the career fair, although this can vary based on their goals. Students focused on meeting with big-name employers should expect to wait in multiple-hour lines for each. In a realistic scenario, a student aiming to meet with five top companies might only talk to two.
Here's the upside: The CF+ appointment feature allows students to secure a meeting time with high-demand companies. Once that appointment is on the calendar, students can approach other employers who have shorter waiting times—often just five minutes. So, while they may be limited to about three high-demand companies, the appointment feature ensures they maximize their time at the fair.
Question: What types of conversations did you have internally to justify the cost of the platform?
Ben: Yeah, that's an important question. I was still in high school when PESC started talking to CF+ eight years ago. Currently, what justifies the cost of the platform for us—and I don't want to sound like a sales pitch here. Non one’s paying me for today's webinar, and PESC isn't getting any discounts for next year, either–but whenever we have an issue, CF+ support is immediate. The response is about five minutes. It's crazy.
Offering Meetings as a registration add-on covers a lot of our usage costs. Students find the platform easy to use; they like to filter employers by major and other factors they care about. I don't get any complaints from employers about navigating their accounts, either.
So, we ask ourselves, if CF+ is worry-free and cost-competitive with other options, why would we switch? The service is excellent.
CF+: I don't think Ben knows this, but a couple of our support staff are actually on this webinar, so you made their day, Ben. Thank you for that. They work very, very hard for all our customers. My Slack is blowing up in the background right now!
As we're wrapping up talking about the CF+ Meetings feature, I'll quickly mention a new user-requested feature and expanded support premiering Fall 2023:
- In-App Check-In: No need to use a web browser anymore. Check-in functionality is now built directly into the Career Fair Plus app.
- In-Person Event Support: Event hosts are returning to on-site programming, and CF+ is responding with expanded support, including enhanced floorplan maps.
Let's wrap up with two send-off remarks:
- Huge thanks to Ben for joining us today. We have a fantastic eight-year partnership with the Purdue Engineering Student Council (PESC). They're not just loyal customers; they drive CF+ innovation, inspiring many platform features. Ben, it's your senior year, so best of luck, and may your successor be as outstanding a collaborator and advocate as you.
- The demos are free if you have specific questions or want to test drive the CF+ app in action.