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How can I make the most out of career fairs?

In a tight labor market, employers are forced to compete for the best talent. If candidates do not know anything about the company, more often than not, an employer could go unnoticed. Career fairs are a great opportunity to distribute information about the company and make a good impression on candidates.

However, without preparation and planning, career fairs can be a disappointment for recruiters. Start the planning process for career fairs by doing research on the sponsoring organization(s), as you will want to make sure that this organization(s) will attract viable and qualified candidates for your employer. Consider the price for the career fair and what is included in the package to ensure that the sponsoring organization(s) will have enough media coverage to attract talent.

Next, develop a relationship with the sponsors of the career fair, making sure that your company uses every resource made available by the sponsor, such as advertising, meet-and-greets with attendees, pre-fair invitations sent to a target audience, sponsorship of raffle giveaways, and on-site interviews. Remember, the idea is to get more visibility with qualified candidates.

Finally, in preparing for the actual day of the career fair, here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure that you have enough representatives attending the career fair. Most sponsors will suggest that at least two to four representatives attend, depending on the size of your company.
  • Pick representatives who are knowledgeable, active, respectful and energetic. The more interactive the representatives, the more interest the attendees will show in your company.
  • Encourage the representatives to bring contact information, such as business cards. Most individuals who attend a career fair want to know that they can follow up with a specific person.
  • Bring handouts, including company history, benefits information, job descriptions and applications.
  • Arrive early to set up your table. It makes a better impression if you are ready to speak with attendees when they stop at your booth.
  • Plan to stay until the end of the career fair. Sometimes qualified applicants are unable to get time off to attend the beginning of career fairs. By staying until the end, you will achieve maximum exposure to all candidates.
  • Advertise active positions. Attendees become frustrated when companies are not actually recruiting for open positions at career fairs.
  • Make applying for a position easy, either by setting up laptops connected to an online job application or by posting information about a mobile app attendees can use from their own phones or tablets.
  • Allow those who are not ready to apply to sign up to receive recruiting information from you and to leave you their resume, if appropriate.

Remember, the key to being successful at a career fair is to be visible, so plan ahead. Use SHRM's Career Fair Recruiting Checklist to stay organized. 



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