Spring is here and that means it’s job fair season. Job fairs are a great way for job seekers to meet with numerous employers all under one location. But they also provide an opportunity for employers to meet face-to-face with a wide variety of job seekers. Job fairs are more than just a chance to fill hiring needs; they also present an opportunity to promote the company and services, establish the company brand in the community and also, check out the competition and what they are doing, says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam (officeteam.com).
“Job fairs are a great opportunity for employers to meet a lot of job seekers in one location, especially those from a specific region or industry,” says Hosking. “One thing to keep in mind about job fairs is that you may end up at booth right across from a company you consider a competitor. That’s why it’s so important to really stand out and make a strong impression on job applicants.”
The first impression a job seeker will have is of your booth and setup. This is where you have a chance to promote the company brand and make a good first impression with job seekers.
“You want to make sure that the general impression you’re conveying is one of quality and professionalism,” says Hosking. “That doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on elaborate handouts or posters. Just make sure that everything you do with respect to your booth is neat, substantive and well-organized.”
Some companies go to job fairs to hire specific needs. One large national window company used a recent job fair to interview summer door-to-door sales staff. It gave them the chance to hold initial interviews at the job fair, and then bring in those they were interested in learning more about for second interviews. Some make hiring decisions on the spot. Other companies use job or career fairs to hire recent college graduates – such as at a campus hiring fair, where they look for recent grads to fill entry-level opportunities.
The people staffing the job fair booth should not only be prepared to handle all the questions attendees are likely to ask about your company, but also be enthusiastic and personable, says Hosking. They are the face of their company and their demeanor, attitude and enthusiasm could reflect the perception of the type of culture and environment within that workplace. You want to attract job seekers to your booth so be the people you send are energetic, outgoing and ready to share your company’s story.
“Send good company ambassadors – the kind of people potential employees will enjoy meeting and potentially work with,” says Hosking.
Any recruiter that has attended a job fair knows they are going to face the gamut of questions – from the unprepared job seeker who does not know anything about your company, products or services, to the candidate who knows exactly what you do and shows in the first few minutes of a discussion that they are the type of employee your company would like to add to the team.
To prepare for that, Hosking outlines some additional things recruiters should plan for while attending a job fair:
Why is your company the place to work? Make sure company representatives are well prepped to cover the key benefits of working at your company. For example, what does your firm provide in terms of a career and what training opportunities are offered?
Be prepared to discuss open jobs: Company attendees should be prepared to discuss the jobs that are currently open. Questions may also come up about company policies.
Know the audience: When speaking to students at job fairs, limit the time you touch on generalities about your company and instead focus on students’ interest areas, such as opportunities for advancement in your firm or what to expect in the recruiting process. Don’t just provide a rehash of what they can read on your website. Give them something unique that fits the type of employee you are trying to attract.
Sell the company: Representatives should be prepared to promote their company and provide real-life examples of their experience working for the organization. Be ready to talk about how you built your own career at the company, or use examples of others within the company who have found success and grown with the organization.
Community Involvement: If your company is active in the community, don’t forget to mention it. According to an OfficeTeam survey, more than four in 10 (42 percent) professionals said an organization’s participation in charitable activities is at least somewhat of a factor in their decision to work there.
Don’t focus on applicants completing long applications: Instead of requiring applicants to fill out lengthy applications, put together a simple form that takes only a minute or two to complete. You’ll have the opportunity later in the recruiting process to gather more detailed information.
For a job seeker to succeed at a job fair, they need to prepare, set a plan and execute. The same holds true for employers. Go into the job fair with a plan to promote/represent the company and find employees who can contribute to company success. That will help make the next job fair a successful job fair.