Class of '21 Part 2: Making a splash on social and victory in virtual careers fairs


02 Oct 2020

Class of '21 Part 2: Making a splash on social and victory in virtual careers fairs

In part 1 of our Class of ’21 series, we looked at the impact of Covid-19 on the Class of ‘21 and their university experience. In part two, we evaluate the strategies that help create a virtual haven for aspirant graduate recruits. How are you going to engage and relate to them? Nia Exon, our Business Development Director, is here to help.

Read part one here

We’ve known for years that a seamless candidate experience will make your organisation stand out from the crowd. It’s fair to say, however, that things are different now. My conversations with Penna clients indicate graduate recruitment budgets are stretched and some internal recruitment teams may be seconded on to other projects. 

Delivering a best-in-class graduate recruitment experience might begin to look like a tall order.

The solution? To step into the shoes of the Class of ‘21 candidates and ensure that the graduate recruitment journey into your organisation is inspiring, engaging and rewarding in the current context.

How can you achieve all this while still maintaining a rigorous, fair and informative recruitment process? Let’s look at some key milestones in a typical graduate recruitment calendar.

August early birds

Many graduate employers begin their search for high achievers as early as August, to secure graduate scheme applications from the best talent pool. Students won’t be on campus yet and so employers need to raise awareness of their interest digitally. For 2020, we’re past this point – but it’s never too late to get started.

A well-executed social media strategy is key to catching up – comprising of organic social content and paid social media advertising. A modern and user-friendly graduate careers site will play a significant role in your success with new recruits.

The monumental impact of COVID-19 has meant this ‘early bird’ phase of the graduate recruitment calendar is all-important.

Why? Digital contact with students will grow to be even more prevalent than it has ever been before. Those employers who trigger the digital radar of the Class of ‘21 early on will win the best talent. Hint: jump on the digital marketing bandwagon!

Spray and pray social and advertising won’t cut through the noise for our ’21 candidates. Consider the demographics, geographies and other candidate characteristics you want to attract. Use targeted social media to get the right type of graduate talent. With great marketing preparation and online proactiveness, you could get students to like and follow your social channels, register for alerts and start engaging with your brand now.

Virtual careers fairs and campus life 

In a normal Autumn recruitment season, student and graduate employers can flaunt what they’ve got on campus at university career fairs. So, what now? Well they’ll be virtual.

How can you stand out in a virtual setting? Think: 3D tours of your sites, interactive guides about your graduate scheme rotations, video interviews with previous graduates and branded animations that bring you to life as an employer. Popular solutions include games, quizzes, prizes, interactive webinars and moderated chat events (so graduates can ask questions about what you are really like as an employer) and even chat bots which answer students’ frequently asked questions.

Graduate recruiters, however, will no doubt be creative in the way in which they engage with students whilst on campus. Think big with branded visual apparatus and promotional merchandise. Look out for interactive light shows and projections on the side of buildings as well as two metre signage, hand gel giveaways and even face masks.

Graduate recruiters will also need to adapt their communications to this post-Covid era. Life on campus will be very different in the coming term. For certain, lectures will be largely online and according to Sally Peck and Katie Russell at the Telegraph; ‘students will live and study in bubbles composed of people from the same course in order to reduce transmission of coronavirus on campus”  [1]. There are also talks of one-way systems round campus.

Find out more about the class of ‘21

Feeling like you need some support with all this? Make waves ahead of time and get in touch with Nia at, and look out for part 3 of our class of ’21 series.


[1] Reference: