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Maximizing a Career Fair

In the tight labor market we’re currently experiencing, many times, the best way to gain more applicants isn’t social media or other online options.  It’s the good, old fashioned, meet them in person approach.  One way to consider getting your company in front of candidates is participating in career fairs.  Career fairs are an excellent way to interact with a diverse talent pool and pre-qualify potential candidates.

Here are a few tips to make your career fair attendance as productive as possible:

  1. Identify a career fair that targets your ideal candidates. Identify which positions you’re actively trying to fill.  Research the career fair offerings in your area or the area where your positions are located and find fairs specifically geared toward the candidates you’re looking for.  Remember too, career events attract various people and you never know who will show up at your booth, so be prepared to speak with candidates about current and future openings to build your network and use your time wisely.
  2. Design your booth set up and check that all your materials are up to date and neatly packed. Your company may have several booth set ups for sales, presentations, and recruiting, so make sure you’ve chosen the set up that will appeal to the candidates you’re hoping to attract for your openings.   Be sure to clarify the size specifications and restrictions with your event coordinator and pack or ship your materials for timely arrival. Before you pack your booth, practice setting it up so that it’s quick and easy when you arrive.
  3. Have marketing materials updated and printed. Of course, you will have your business cards on hand, but it’s advantageous to provide candidates with some kind of promotional material to help them become more familiar with your company and corporate culture. This may be a one-page handout, brochure or something more creative to get the word out.
  4. Arrive early to set up and walk around first. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive, unload your materials, set up, and walk around the venue a bit. If you are still setting up when the job seekers arrive, it could send the message that you’re unprofessional, not to mention leaving you stressed out when you’re talking to potential candidates instead of friendly and approachable.  Plan to arrive early and give yourself plenty of time, remember, candidates are also assessing whether they want to work for your company, so think about what image you’re presenting.
  5. Make a Connection. Everyone you meet will not be a good fit for your company or your current, open positions, but they are still an opportunity to create a good impression of your company and build a network for future openings.  Be sure to wear a name tag and pass out your business cards to everyone who stops by your booth.
  6. Decide if you’re accepting resumes. Candidates will often bring their resumes with them to be ready to show potential employers their experience face to face.  Will you accept it, or will you direct him or her to apply online? If you will not be accepting resumes or giving interviews at the career fair, be gracious and take the time to look at the person’s qualifications, ask some questions, and give advice.  Then, direct them to your online hiring process, if applicable, or you could have a tablet or iPad with your online application at your booth and offer it to them.  Job seekers are looking to benefit from this event so don’t leave them empty-handed.  Whether you’re accepting resumes or not, give candidates your business card and some literature about your company.
  7. Stand in front of or to the side of your booth/table. Be as inviting as possible.  Job seekers are naturally nervous walking around a room of potential employers.  They want to make a good impression on you too.  Sitting behind a table looks unapproachable.  Be sure you smile and say hello to folks passing by.
  8. Remember to follow up ASAP after the event. Respond to all inquiries as soon as possible after the event.  You came to the event as a serious employer, so also respect that the job seekers came there with serious hopes of finding a position. Don’t keep your contacts guessing.  Follow up with a phone call or email inviting them for an in person interview if you’re interested or briefly thank them for stopping by and let them know you’ll be in touch.  Make sure to send a thank email even if you’re not interested in a candidate right now as well; you may not have a position for them now, but in the future, you might be glad you kept in touch.

Didn’t find the candidate you were looking for? Sometimes even with the best preparation and planning, you leave a career fair without finding the perfect fit for your open positions. If so, give JFC Global a call today. We’re specialized recruiters with pre-qualified candidates in IT, Finance, and Engineering. We may have exactly the candidate you need.