Buying swag to hand out to your new employees and to candidates at career fairs can be tough. You want to make sure you have things that people actually want so that you’re not left with dozens of unwanted branded pencils.
One way to approach the swag is to divide it into two categories: less expensive, high utility items to give out to candidates at career fairs, networking events, or other types of events and high utility items you give to your new employees to show them how much you appreciate them. Notice that, in both categories, utility is present so that you avoid purchasing undesirable goods that end up in trash cans.
Searching through the sea of available swag online can be overwhelming, so we put together the following list to help you choose your swag for your next event. We rated every item by the following scale:
Without further ado, the list of desirable swag!
This is a simple, but useful item that you can easily customize with your company branding and logo. You can order small bottles of it. Many include a loop such that it can be stuck on a keychain or on a backpack so that your candidates can have it with them to use as needed throughout their daily lives.
These days, we’re all looking for simple ways to minimize our environmental and carbon footprint. One of the most visible efforts is the phasing out of using single-use plastic bags at grocery stores. In fact, many cities now have ordinances against plastic bags which either ban their use or impose a fee. Give candidates a easy way to be more eco-friendly by gifting them with reusable bag with your logo on it. Slip a small note in the bag with a tip to leave it in the trunk of their cars to avoid forgetting it on a trip to the store. This swag item has bonus points for career fairs because many candidates will use the bag to carry all of the swag and paper they receive from other companies--free marketing for you at the event! :)
Not everyone drinks Starbucks religiously but, if you give them a gift card, they’ll be sure to use it. Giving out a few branded gift cards is a sure way to score plenty of points with candidates. You can give them out at your recruiting events, especially more intimate ones. In campus recruiting specifically, you could send a few out to your top candidates near midterms or final exams so that they have plenty of caffeine for those long hours of studying. They’ll be sure to remember you fondly when they’re using the card and find themselves sipping on a delicious latte for free.
Pens are an age old, classic swag item. While not unique, they’re something that always gets used and will sit in bags, backpacks, and on desks. A candidate will subtly see your logo on the pens they use everyday to take notes or to write in a journal. Spend a little more on pens that have nice coatings and maybe a few metallic details. You’ll want your brand to be strongly represented and your candidate to find that this pen becomes his/her favorite, not just any other old plastic ballpoint.
Candidates will need somewhere to use their new pen. You can handout a branded notebook or journal. You can opt to have a simple spiral notebook with your branding on the cover, but we recommend spending a little more to stand out with a more appealing notebook. It could have a leatherette paper cover and pen holder. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money handing out nice notebooks to everyone at large events you can have two kinds made. You can hand out the simpler ones at large recruiting events and keep the nicer ones for special events, especially for candidates who advance further down your pipeline.
Wallets and phones are increasingly merging into a single entity. As people generally move away from using cash, wallets are evolving to match consumer behavior. One day, payments are likely to happen completely electronically from the digital wallets on your phones. In the meantime, many people are opting to keep credit, debit cards and I.D.s in wallets attached to the back of their phones. It makes perfect sense to keep the two things people can’t leave the house without together. Why not put your logo on one of these wallets? It might be smart to make your logo small so that candidates are still excited about using the wallet without feeling like they have become a full time brand ambassador for your company.
Now that they’re starting a new job, it would be great to give your new hires a nice backpack with your logo and company branding on it. You could fill the backpack with all the other swag items on this list to show them your appreciation on day one. They’re sure to use the backpack everyday to bring their company issued laptop and other supplies to work. At Flo Recruit, we opted for the Timbuktu Authority backpack, and we had a local embroiderer add our logo to it.
Your new hires will DEFINITELY feel loved when they unwrap their new set of branded AirPods. They’re probably going to call their friends and brag about how their company just gave them a set of AirPods. You should shop around to see which companies offer branding on this item for a low price as some providers can make this a more expensive gesture than it has to be.
Many offices keep the thermostat set to an uncomfortably cool setting. While some people like the cold because they feel that it makes them more alert, others would rather spend the day in a cozy sweater instead of shivering all day. Hand out some zip up sweatshirts to make your employees feel right at home when they’re working. You can opt to find a simple lightweight sweater or splurge a little on a branded item from a top brand like North Face or Patagonia.
Not having a t-shirt as part of your new hire welcome package would be a crime. If there’s one item everyone absolutely wants, it’s a cool t-shirt to represent the company they just joined. Your new hires are excited to be here and want to feel like a part of the family. A t-shirt is a really effective way to make them feel welcome. You should make sure to pay attention to the material the shirts are made of so that you choose something lightweight and comfortable (like poly/cotton blend) instead of something that might be a little stiff and potentially itchy or irritating to the skin. We referenced Josh Baer’s article Your $4 T-Shirt is Costing You Millions to select the shirts for our team.
Isn’t it annoying when you have to find a seat right next to an outlet or even sit on the floor to charge your phone or laptop because your charging cord is too short? Give your employees the gift of freedom from this restriction with an extra long charger for their laptop! Maybe throw in an extra long charger for their phone or portable phone charger too.
Send your new hires home with a bottle of wine with a branded label. You can buy dozens of these labels and place them on your preferred bottle of wine. Your employees are sure to feel appreciated when they’re pairing your wine with their dinner after a long day of work.
These cups might be a little more pricey, but they’re one of the most wanted and popular items you can give your new hires. They have the added benefit of being eco-friendly by helping your employees reduce the waste created by using paper and plastic cups for their drinks.
The list of great swag items is endless. Choose something that your candidates and employees will actually use and cherish. Stay away from poorly made items that will break easily. Your swag items are a direct representation of your brand and the value you place on the recipient. Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to ensure your logo is relatively subtle so that the recipient is reminded of your brand without feeling like they can’t wear your swag without becoming a walking billboard.