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Handing Out Swag at a Job Fair

13 Fun Swag Ideas for Job Fairs and Career Giveaways

One of the most important aspects of any event where you plan to both attend and hand out swag and promotional items is context.

For an extreme example, imagine that you’ve purchased a load of branded wireless earbuds. You’re attending an event; is it a good idea to give these away as swag? It depends on the event.

  • Great idea: A new product launch event where you’ve pre-synced the earbuds to an on-location broadcast that delivers useful information about the product on a loop.
  • Decent idea: A music-focused show where people attending are appreciators of music but where many likely already have their own preferential earbuds or headphones, and audiophiles may complain about the sound quality.
  • Bad idea: A convention for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and the support structures and organizations surrounding them.

Of course, not every piece of swag is so starkly biased. A branded pen or a t-shirt can be a fine option for pretty much any event, though they’re also quite common and not necessarily unique enough to make you stand out.

So, let’s consider a specific kind of event: job and career fairs. What kinds of contextually useful promotional items or swag options can you hand out that will be memorable, useful, and beneficial to your brand? Here are thirteen ideas.

1: Branded Tote Bags

Tote bags with decent branding on them are an incredibly useful option for a career fair, especially if you’re either the one hosting the event or if you have a location close to the entrance. They’re extremely useful to attendees, who can store the other swag items, business cards, and other assorted stuff they get from other booths in your bag. You can also put together packages of multiple swag items from this list and elsewhere and preload the totes with other useful and interesting goodies that wouldn’t make good swag on their own but go great as part of a complementary package.

Branded Tote Bag

Just be aware that you won’t be the only one who has this idea. So, either you need to be better than the rest in some way – like offering the largest tote or a high-quality bag instead – or you need to make up for it with the other benefits you bring to the table. How you navigate such a situation is up to you.

2: Lanyards and Badge Holders

This is another option for when you’re the one hosting an event, especially if you’re charging some kind of admission or controlling entry in some way. Basically, any time your attendees need to be wearing badges that show proof of their right to attend the event, you can make use of lanyards as a way to provide something to hold those badges. It’s not overstated but it’s always useful.

Custom Lanyards

If you aren’t the one hosting the event, you can still get a stash of branded lanyards and make sure your staff wears them. This way, even outside of your actual booth or table, anyone interested in approaching your company’s representatives will be able to identify them when they’re “on duty” and can make the most of an opportunity.

Handing out lanyards to the people who visit your booth can also be handy, but it works best if you have something useful or interesting attached to the lanyard as well, whether it’s a badge holder, a keychain, or a tool like a flashlight.

3: Water Bottles

Water bottles are always a useful item to give away. It works best if the venue hosting the career fair has a good way to refill them, but most do these days.

A Water Bottle

It’s important that the people attending these kinds of events stay hydrated so they have the energy and focus to make the most of the event. By providing water bottles, you can make sure even the people who didn’t come prepared are able to work on equal footing. Plus, a decent, high-quality water bottle can be kept in use by the recipient for years to come, which keeps your brand at the forefront of their mind. As an added bonus, pre-fill and pre-chill your water bottles so the people who receive them get a nice cold drink.

4: Power Banks

One of the most important elements of a career fair is the ability to exchange details and contact information. The old-fashioned way to handle this is through something like a business card or an informational packet, but it’s easy to get lost in a stack of business cards, no matter how nice the watermark is.

A Power Bank

These days, of course, we all use our phones for everything from contacts to notepad apps and more. Unfortunately, phones run out of power when they’re used extensively in a day, especially if it’s not the latest and newest phone. You can help your attendees by handing out branded power banks for that quick recharge without needing to rely on potentially risky public charging stations.

5: Weather Items

This is more of a category than a specific item, but it encompasses contextual items you might bring based on what you expect the weather to be where the job fair is hosted.

Custom Umbrellas

Options include:

  • Umbrellas with branding on them to protect from the rain (or the sun, in some cases.)
  • Bandanas or headbands to help soak up sweat on hot summer days.
  • Small tubes of sunscreen, especially if the event is held in an outdoor venue.
  • Sunglasses or sun hats for similar reasons.
  • Jackets or windbreakers to help protect from colder or windy weather.

Most people are going to come prepared, of course, but everyone forgets a necessary item now and then, and offering something as a backup can be a valuable add-on to your booth.

6: Convention Items

Another option is a small package of items that can help with the convention or job fair atmosphere. Each item can be branded, or it can be a mixture of branded and unbranded items, depending on what you can find available to you.

Hand Sanitizer and a Mask

For example:

  • Mask holders or ear savers for those who want to protect themselves and others by wearing masks.
  • Masks themselves, which can be adjustable and useful even if just for the one event.
  • Hand sanitizer containers to account for all the handshakes that are likely to happen.

All of these options can be packed up into one package and handed out, either alongside other swag or as their own “job fair survival kit” with your branding and contact info on it.

7: Stationery Packages

A simple but useful set of stationery can be very helpful to people who either aren’t prepared to use their phones to take notes or want something more tangible to use to take down information.

A Stationery Package

A notepad, preferably with a hardback so it can be written on without a nearby table or desk, a pen that works out of the gate and isn’t a cheap, frustrating piece of trash destined for the landfill, maybe even a calendar or planner to record and schedule actual appointments and interviews for the most successful candidates at the job fair. Any one of these items is near-meaningless on its own, but when you put them all together, you get a nice, useful piece of swag.

8: Snacks

While you might have a hard time branding snacks, offering something like a bag of trail mix, a beverage, a power bar, or something else that fits your theme can be very helpful for those long career fairs where people spend all day in a convention hall talking to representatives of one business or another.

Snacks to be Handed Out

You’re not going to be able to remove all of the branding of the item you’re handing out, but you can create replacement wrappers or a branded bag to hold several treats in one package to hand out. If you’re a company that deals in food products, this is also a great way to show off what you make and offer samples to potential candidates.

9: Flash Drives

Flash drives or other forms of USB storage are both very useful in situational cases and trivially easy to find these days. They’re cheap and ubiquitous, but that doesn’t make them any less useful.

A Flash Drive

The real benefit of a branded flash drive is that you can preload it with useful and relevant information for prospective candidates. PDF job applications they can edit and send in, detailed instructions on how to apply and who to follow up with, a media package with your company pitch and employee salary/benefits/careers/other information, all of it can be loaded onto a USB drive with room to spare. And, when the individual using it no longer needs that information, they can delete it and use the thumb drive for their own purposes.

10: Custom Branded Plushies

While it doesn’t suit every brand, some brands can make a squishy or plushy version of something relevant to themselves and hand them out. You may be surprised at the number of people who really love these kinds of promotional items.

Various Custom Plushies

A squishable logo for use as a stress ball, a plush version of your company mascot, or even just a stuffed toy representing the products you make can all be great custom items. They’ll be a little more expensive than many other promotional items, though, because they require more unique development to create.

11: Stickers and Magnets

We’re lumping both of these into the same category because they’re similar in concept: a small, branded, image-heavy promotional item meant to be stuck on something. Magnets are a little more expensive but more useful because they can be reused, while stickers can be a great option both because they’re cheap and because there are some people who go crazy for collecting stickers.

Stickers and Magnets

As an added bonus, you can create half a dozen or more different designs and allow people to pick out the one they like the most, or even give full sets to your candidates as they pass through.

12: Hot and Cold Packs

When you’re thinking about things that can be both branded and useful in daily life, a lot of the most common options have been done to death already and, likely, have been handed out by several others at the job fair already. So, it can be a good idea to look for something a little more unusual.

A Cold Pack

Hot and cold packs, the kind that are filled with a gel that can be put in the freezer or microwave to adjust and retain temperature, are both very useful household goods and unusual enough that they aren’t likely to be seen elsewhere at the job fair.

13: Pet Items

This one is a lot more hit or miss. It works best if you’re a company that has something to do with animals, but if you happen to be attending a job fair where a lot of the people visiting are likely to have pets, it can also work.

Various Pet Items

Options like leashes, collars, and other basic pet items can be great; a branded brush or other grooming items also work. Just be sure to have a backup option for people who don’t have pets or whose pets are things like lizards or birds, just in case.

Anything that Works For You

When all is said and done, the goal of a job fair isn’t to center around the value you hand out in your promotional swag. The swag is ancillary to the overall goal of making sure your prospective candidates have a good impression of your brand. That’s why one of the biggest factors you should consider is not specifically what the items you offer are but the ethics of the production behind them. Even a high-quality t-shirt shows less dedication when it’s made under poor working conditions; a locally-produced shirt might not be exciting, but it shows greater dedication to social and environmental concerns.

Printing a T-Shirt

Here at Ethix, we stock our store with as many ethically made and sustainably-produced items as we can. Every product has details of its creation, and we’re always happy to talk about them if you have specific questions. You can shop comfortably with us and know you’re getting the most sustainable and environmentally friendly swag items you possibly can.