Career Fairs are a common practice in building candidate pipelines, and a great opportunity for face-to-face contact with interested, active job seekers. Many hiring organizations attend career fairs regularly; however, career fairs have recently ranked at the bottom of the source value index, according to the Direct Employers Survey by Booz Allen Hamilton. If you are attending career fairs you will want to make sure that the event is worth your time and money. Consider the following before committing to an event:
- Have you attended before and had good results?
- Do you have available recruiting staff for the event and for the follow-up from the event?
- Is the event in a location that makes sense for your recruiting needs?
- Is the audience appropriate (campus, diversity, etc.)?
- How are candidates screened or prescreened?
- What other companies will be attending?
- Does the event supply candidate contact information to exhibitors?
- Do you have a professional display unit and information to hand out to candidates?
- Does the career fair company provide on-site support?
Once you have evaluated these and other criteria and have determined that the event is worth the investment, maximize your impact at the event:
- Brand everything. Brand your materials, your booth, and your recruiters. Make sure every person and every give-away clearly articulates your company and articulates some point of differentiation.
- Bring similar recruiters. If you are attending a campus event, bring interns or junior employees to whom students can relate. Likewise, if you are attending a diversity event, make sure the team at your booth reflect the attendees of the event.
- Give-away items. Give away collateral and items that will remind candidates of their experience with you. Choose items that fit your culture or brand but that are also useful (most items end up in the trash or in a drawer after events).
- Ask for something in exchange. Give away premium items, but ask for an email address, resume or contact information in exchange. The follow-up after the event can be critical, so the more ways you have to contact individuals, the better off your recruiting success will be.
- Consider a raffle or drawing. This is a great way to collect contact information and draw people to your booth. Give away an iPod, Palm Pilot, or laptop.
- Engage them. Try to engage the candidates as much as possible. Ask them questions to determine if there might be a fit. Offer something about your organization – remember your value proposition and what you offer that is unique, better or different than the company next to you. Avoid just handing them a brochure and letting the individual walk by
- Leave the booth. Avoid sitting or standing behind a table. Instead, step into the aisles, be open and inviting. Make the experience fun and interactive for the candidates. Consider hiring a company like Ads on Feet (models wear video screens and circulate events with your message playing) to share a mobile message about your company.
- Use sound, video, or other media. Show video or play music at your booth to attract people. People are drawn to sound and video.
- Follow up! Make sure every person you spoke to receives a series of follow-up communication. This could include a phone call from an executive or recruiter, an E-card or a letter.
- Power of 5 (or 10, or 20). Instead of focusing on volume of candidates (passing brochures to hundreds of people), focus on the 5, 10 or 20 candidates that seem the most active and interested. Require each recruiter to leave the event with 5, 10 or 20 serious viable candidate names and commitment for next steps.
- Outside the event. If you are attending a national event (such as the NBMBA), consider engaging individuals outside the event. Advertising is available on billboards and in local bars and restaurants. Choose areas in close proximity to hotels or the convention center where the event is located. You might also consider a mobile billboard to “drive” your message around the event location.
All of these booth strategies will give your company an advantage at an event. Candidates attend career fairs for many reasons, but a common reason is to “shop” or browse jobs and interface with many companies in one location. If the candidates are shopping, then you certainly are selling. If your organization and recruiting team can engage candidates at your booth and make a dedicated effort to follow up with each quality lead, then you will significantly increase your return on investment at any career fair.
Related to Career Event Best Practices:
- Company culture as a recruiting technique
- Hire a student | Tips to help you hire a student
- Recruitment Cycles – Planning When to Hire Employee