Should You Recruit at Job Fairs?

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Job fairs allow recruiters access to hundreds of job seekers and candidates in one central location. It’s an easy way to meet candidates face-to-face, promote your job opportunities and introduce your company to a wide variety of professionals.

But is spending time, money and resources on recruiting at a job fair the right move for your business and hiring needs? That depends.

First, you have to attend career fairs that bring candidates that fit your needs. If you’re hiring experienced management or sales professionals, then you don’t want to attend a campus hiring fair where only entry-level job seekers will be in attendance. If you are looking for STEM graduates to fill your open positions, then a campus career fair at a related college or university is right for you. If you are looking to hire veterans, job seekers with disabilities, or job seekers with experience but not a college degree, then you should focus on finding and attending job fairs where those candidates will be in attendance.

The article titled Why Career Fairs Need A Makeover by Nicole Dessain, the founder talent.imperative, a talent management consulting organization, discussed the pluses and minuses of recruiting at job fairs.

“Every talent acquisition organization should continuously analyze the ROI from all of its hiring sources — including career fairs,” said Dessain. “It starts with identifying key talent segments and the most effective ways to attract each segment. If recruiting events are part of the source mix, the next step is to define the types of events that make sense for each type of talent.”

Dessain conducted a survey in which 25 companies from across all major industries participated, about the topic of the effectiveness of career fairs.

Nicholas Tompkins, now Director of Talent and HR Systems at Corrections Corporation of America, participated in the survey, stating: “Preparation for the event in terms of identifying the audience, potential targets, and appropriately sizing the event team are critical success factors. I have attended many events with low candidate turnout and high exhibitor body count — wasteful and expensive. When attending events with potential high quality candidates, bring decision makers who can make on the spot hiring/engagement decisions.”

If recruiting at job fairs are an important part of your recruiting goals, make sure you send staff that is energetic and motivated to succeed at the job fair. Those who bring energy and passion and can speak highly of the opportunities at your company are going to attract candidates who want to work at your company, according to the article Effective Career Fair Recruiting: How to Increase Your ROI.

The article stated: “Recruiting is challenging work that requires organizational knowledge that is both deep and wide. It also requires enthusiasm, interpersonal presence, the desire to bring new professionals into the organization, and the ability to stay active all day.”

To maximize success at a job fair, make sure you staff it properly. One or two recruiters may not be able to handle the job fair traffic. In addition, remember that job seekers observe recruiters before they approach tables. If recruiters are passive, disengaged, sitting behind their table, attendees will walk right past them.

The article achieving the best ROI Possible at a Job Fair or Convention by Sarah Bridgewater, discussed how important it is to brand your space:

“If you’ve been to a job fair, you’ve probably seen the companies that put in little effort to define their space,” said Bridgewater  “Even if all the space you are given is a folding table, it’s still your space. Brand it and make it your own. If potential hires can’t figure out who you are and what you do in a quick glance they’ll have no incentive to visit your table at all. Small spaces shouldn’t constrict you from making a splash, there are a variety of portable banner stands, tabletop displays and other accessories that can make a small space look very impressive.”

Should you recruit at job fairs? Yes, if you pick the job or career fair that fits your needs and brings in the right candidates, you send staff motivated to recruit and promote your business, and you put in effort to promote your employer brand. All of that can add up to a formula for job fair recruiting success.

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