Career-fair planning should begin a few months before the exhibition dates and summer is a great time for you to get organized—recruiters should ensure all display equipment is in working order, marketing materials are ordered, and a publicity strategy is in place.
The following is a collection of best practices we’ve come up with that can help you get your career event planning underway:
- Research the career fairs before registering to get a good idea of who (exhibitors and spectators) will be attending and what materials you will need for effectively reaching candidates: Is it a general fair for entry-level, college student positions or a specialized fair that will attract skilled professionals?
- Aim to secure a booth facing the main entrance (or as close as possible) of the fair for attracting the highest volume of traffic.
- Read the exhibitor manuals so you know what the fair will and will not provide you (e.g., power, tables, chairs, Internet connection, food, water).
- Review the floor plan to assess who will be your neighbours and if you will have any space restrictions.
- Practice setting up your booth six to eight weeks prior to the event to ensure you have all the display elements and that they are in working order; remember, it can take four or more weeks to produce new banners or other display elements.
- Strategize what marketing materials and give-away items (“swag”) to provide; don’t just bring whatever you have in the stock room, it’s important the brochures and other information you provide speaks to your audience—targeted messaging says that you mean business.
- Get the word out:
Set up a recruitment microsite specifically for upcoming career fairs and direct interested candidates to the site. This will enable you to capture metrics directly related to career fair participation.
Include information on your career fair attendance in recruitment ads and job postings.
Publish small teaser ads in media where the fair is being advertised.
Put a banner announcement on your website.
Create a Facebook page to invite attendees and post future career fair events.
If you have a Twitter account, send out Tweets about upcoming fairs.
If you’ll be present at a big national recruitment event, consider outdoor advertising (e.g., billboards or guerilla marketing) in the vicinity of the event leading up to and during the exhibition.
- Set measurable goals of how many visitors you expect to your booth and how many applications you wish to receive onsite and after the event.
- Offer prizes to recruiters who generate the highest number of applicants (e.g., recruiters who generate more than eight applications during the fair receive a gift certificate).
- Ensure transportation is arranged for all the career fair team members and that they know where to park for unloading the exhibit on set-up day.
- Plan fun role-playing games for senior recruiters to train junior recruiters on what types of questions and scenarios to expect at the fairs.
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