When you engage in a career fair, you’re going to run into eager candidates of all styles, stripes, and banners. But the candidates that stand out are sharp, informed, and always engaging. If you’re going to get those candidates, you’ll need recruiters who are ready to meet them. Here are ten tips on how to make the most of a career fair and catch the people you want for your organization.
Before the fair
1. Get the word out that you’ll be there
You can find more than a few candidates just by letting them know they can meet you in person at a career fair. You can reach plenty of people with a social media campaign or an announcement on your website.
Expect to have some help from the hosts of the career fair. Communicate with them about your organization and the people you’re looking for. Your host may even provide you with an email marketing opportunity to engage with career fair participants prior to the event.
2. Have your materials together
The next thing you’ll need to attract potential candidates to your booth at the fair is a display that will wow them. A booth with a colorful display of your company’s mission will give your organization credibility (not to mention draw a nice crowd to your recruiters). Keep plenty of company literature on hand for starting conversations and helping applicants keep your organization in mind. Business cards will also go very far toward keeping conversations going after the fair.
3. Train your people
The words and behavior of your representatives reflect on your organization, so it is absolutely important that they give the right impression. They need to be fully aware of your organization’s goals at the career fair and how to achieve them. You need to make sure they know what positions are open, what people are right for those positions, and how you intend to reach those people. Also, make sure they understand how you expect them to behave. (Don’t forget that decorum doesn’t come naturally to everyone!)
4. Prepare the right questions for potential candidates
You most likely have a good idea of the positions you’re trying to fill and the skills, experiences and personalities you’d like to see in candidates for those positions. A great way to make good use of your time at a career fair is to conduct “pseudo-interviews” to pre-qualify candidates. Prepare a list of evaluation questions that could be used to gauge potential applicants’ skills, background, and interest in your organization.
5. Decide whether you’re taking resumes
If a candidate hands you a paper resume, will you accept it or will you refer him/her to your website? If you’d rather refer your candidates to apply on your website, keep in mind that the No. 1 complaint from job fair participants is that they talk to the employer and then they’re told to “go online and apply.” Candidates want to know that by showing up in person for a career fair, they are having an advantage over people simply applying online. So, if you don’t want your recruiters to leave the fair with a big stack of paper to process and do not want to hurt your employer image with your candidates , it would be worth investing in a tool for capturing those resumes digitally. With Rakuna’s candidate lead capture mobile app, a recruiter can gather hundreds of resumes electronically, making that mountain of documents much more manageable.
During the fair
6. Be early
Ideally, you should be ready with career fair plans multiple weeks in advance. You want to have your message, your representatives, your reserved space, your booth, and all the rest ready well before you’ve seen your first applicants. Having everything together early will go very far toward projecting a positive image of your organization.
At the fair itself, you want your booth set up and your representatives ready to meet people before the first attendees walk in. Putting your display together after the fair has started looks unprofessional and will turn people away.
7. Be engaging
Looking good doesn’t mean much if your recruiters aren’t making potential candidates want to stay. Your representatives should be on their feet engaging with fair attendees as much as possible. From the start of the fair to the end, there should be someone at your booth who is ready and able to give their undivided attention to potential applicants. Going back to the last section, there’s one thing you should be doing late: leaving the fair.
8. Attract visitors to your booth with competitions or giveaways
Competitions can dispel potential candidates’ hesitation and get them excited about your company the second they approach your booth. There are lots of great ideas for contests out there: drawings, photo contests, caption contests, trivia, and so much more. Prizes can range from gift cards to shot glasses to audio speakers.
Giveaways can also generate buzz about your organization and get people to approach your booth. Students at the fair will be looking to collect company swag, so you should have a nice supply ready. Pens are a classic item here, but you can go further. Students typically like t-shirts, tote bags, and flash drives, since they are likely to use them long after the fair is over.
After the fair
9. Follow up with everyone
Following up with applicants is very important if you want to keep people interested in your organization. Failure to do so promptly can keep you from finding the people you want and can hurt your organization’s image. Any savvy job-seeker will send out more than a few applications, and the company that replies fastest can easily come out on top. If you don’t reply, someone else most likely will. If you wait too long after receiving an application, not only will you lose the applicant, but you will also cause people to regard you as rude and uncaring or lumbering and inefficient. By preparing a good follow-up strategy, you can create more value for your organization and add a personal touch to the recruiting process that applicants will appreciate.
10. Be ready to process a lot of information
Now I do understand that following up with every candidate is time-consuming and labor-intensive. At first glance, processing that huge pile of applications can seem almost impossible, and it might feel like the best choice to just be done with it and throw a bunch of them into a file cabinet (or, to your applicants’ horror, the recycling bin). You can deal with some bad feelings if that means getting the right people.
However, it is possible to process all those applications and follow up with everyone without creating a tons of extra work for your HR department. Rakuna’s candidate lead capture mobile app can help you better manage all that data. You can quickly qualify applicants and prepare a follow-up plan in much less time than you would with a big mess of paper resumes.