Technological progression makes people argue that doing things online is better and job fairs should be no exception. Both recruiters and job seekers can join with a computer set at home, a groomed face, a formal vest, a decent background, and then ready for the virtual job fair or even a job interview. Are they wearing shorts? Unpleasant body odor? Or even half-naked? Who knows and who cares? But not for the traditional offline job fair where both of them have to make more thorough preparation.
While it is true that companies are taking advantage of modern tools, the fact that on average over 200 organizations and around 1400 job seekers joined per career fair show great potential and competitiveness of traditional job fairs. This guide will help organizations get a good grasp of the concept of job fair and excel in these ‘old but gold’ events.
Job Fair 101
A job fair is a recruiting event, where recruiters and employers find prospective employees and job seekers learn about potential employers, the market dynamic, and search for opportunities. At job fairs, employers can expect to encounter active job seekers who want to learn about job openings, the application process, and organizations. This type of event is also a viable opportunity to expand their network thanks to the presence of other hiring officials and employers from other organizations. At the funfair, love stories can bloom; so at a job fair, partnerships can be established.
These spacious venues allow companies to set up attractive booths while candidates interact and move between employers. Job fairs are held all year round, but there are some occasions that you should focus on. Fall season job fairs are normally on top of the priorities list of hiring officials and job fairs are held on universities or colleges campuses to attract fresh graduates or senior year students. Some organizations also hold job fairs during the spring semester of the school year.
To attend job fairs, recruiters should identify targeted events and connect with organizers for more details on participation. Many job fairs are organized by educational institutions to bridge the gap between their students and future employers. As employers, you may also receive an invitation from local organizations to join these career fairs, or you can even actively contact the employer relations team to ask for more details of these job fairs, and how you can cooperate with them to bring opportunities to job seekers.
Benefits of Attending Job Fair
Huge Talent Pool
Throughout the job fairs across 2020, the number of job fair attendants remains relatively high with an average of 1,441 students, ensuring the exposure to a great number of interested candidates with at least 50 thorough interviews within an 8-hour job fair session. Therefore, job fairs can be considered as “speed dating” events between employers and candidates, allowing employers to meet dozens of job seekers during a short period. As a great number of job fairs are organized by specialized departments/ or institutions, these events give employers the chance to recruit employees who are educated in specific subject areas with certified educational qualifications. Thus, it is easier for recruiters to fill required positions for their firms, to build up and streamline your talent database for current and future vacancies.
Proactive and Talented Candidates
Meeting the candidates face to face has its own benefits. The real-life interactions say a lot about the job candidates for how they handle the situations and control the conversation. Such interactions are normally omitted during online job fairs, where both recruiters and job seekers can only communicate through screens.
Job fairs also create a bilateral relationship between attendants and employers. Job seekers show interest in job openings, future opportunities, and employers look for suitable candidates for open vacancies. Recruiters’ experience of participating in job fairs and engaging with proactive candidates is significantly different from pushing the news via recruiting channels and hoping to receive applications.
Employer Branding Opportunities
Setting a booth in a job fair can be a double-edged sword. It is a small representative of recruiters’ organizations, and in a job fair environment, this can be considered as a practice of public relations. The physical presence of an organization at a job fair often indicates the firm’s professionalism in general and the involved departments such as the HR team and logistic team. In other words, it is the face of an organization. Imagine having built a prestigious brand and only to lose the reputation by setting a poor booth at a job fair.
Rakuna’s tip: A great combination of the physical booth and virtual presence at job fairs will result in a better impression among job seekers and even promote the firm’s image in front of its partners.
Moreover, direct Interactions at job fairs are great opportunities to show the company’s culture, the working environment, and create positive impressions associated with the employer’s brand. Some creative ways to gain the spotlight include hosting mini-event or organizing interesting activities to attract candidates. You can also check out Rakuna’s suggestions for job fair giveaways for lasting impacts.
As mentioned above, a job fair is not only a place to seek and fill vacancies. It can also be a place for businesses to meet and exchange ideas and values. Regarding recruiting business, recruiters hiring officials can meet other fellow recruiters and build their network for career development and future collaboration. In some cases, they can exchange suggestions for candidates, connect each other to communities and organizations.
For example, firm A receives a profile of a prominent candidate but currently, it is not interested in that candidate or there is no vacancy for the candidate’s role. Firm A’s recruiters can suggest the candidates apply to one of their associates which is firm B or C, who might be interested in this particular candidate. But would recruiters from firm A suggest this candidate to firm D, who is not on his network?
Future partnerships with organizers can also be formed thanks to business cards and phone numbers exchanges during these events. In terms of recruiting, the partnership can be shown by collaboration in an effort to hold exclusive events to reach prominent profiles. Even though social media and technology have helped make it a lot easier for the practices of networking, face-to-face meeting still remains one of the most effective ways for communication and bridge the differences among businesses.
Interested in Campus Recruitment? You can check Rakuna’s College Recruiting strategy
How to Excel at Job Fairs?
Now you have acknowledged the importance of job fairs, and you might want to start thinking about attending these events. But we must inform you that such events will require certain investments: money, human resources, and time. Here are some key tips so your effort will not go to waste, or even excel beyond existing in your current recruiting team.
Step 1: Starting With a Plan
After deciding to join a job fair, the first thing recruiters should do is to work on a recruitment plan and select optimal events. It is absurd to attend all of the events that are held in your local area. By selecting and deciding which fairs you will attend and which ones to skip carefully, your team will have more resources to invest to make your presence at the event flawless. And of course, time efficiency will allow you to recruit new members on board and participate in other tasks as well. Here are some factors you should consider:
- Industry norms
- The development plan of your organization
- What are your recruitment goals? (Are you joining to raise awareness of opportunities, collect resumes, to build your employer brand, or anything else?)
- The targeted recruiting profiles. Recruiting target (You should think about attributes of desired candidates, job types in need, roles to fill into consideration.,...)
Based on these factors, recruiters should analyze their current needs and situation, then decide optimal events to invest their team resources and map out the recruitment action plan. Some examples of your job fair strategy include:
- Joining campus job fairs to fill entry level positions and find potential candidates for internship and management trainee program.
- Participating in industry-specific job fairs to find the suitable candidate for your industry (technology, hospitality, education, etc...). Check out our recommendation for Top Recruiting Events for STEM students.
- Attending career fairs which attract underrepresented groups, such as minorities or women to build your diversity and inclusion culture. For example, the Grace Hopper Career Fair for women in tech.
- An organization can also consider hosting its own industry-specific career fair to boost employer brand if resources for such events are available. However, big events will require tremendous investment to be well organized and effectively attract high quality job seekers.
You can refer to our Master List of U.S College Career Fairs to have a big picture of available options.
Step 2: Assembling a Strong Team
It is undeniable that everyone wants to form the best team they could get and win battles for them and job fairs are no exception. A desirable representing team should be able to clarify uncertainties among the job seekers, create a friendly atmosphere around the booth and leave useful notes, records for future analyses. Having such a team will also control the time pace of each interview efficiently, allowing as many visitors to join your booth as possible.
- Employers should consider having the following elements to build the best team representing a company and fastening the recruitment process.
- Recruiters: The core element of a job fair recruitment team. They can initiate discussions, answer candidate questions on the recruitment process, company’s culture, and coordinate activities.
- Hiring managers: Can be included in the team to fasten the process. They can screen candidates' profiles and make initial interviews with outstanding individuals. Hiring managers can also describe precisely the roles and responsibilities of open vacancies, as well as answer functional and technical questions if any.
- Alumni: If recruiters are planning to join job fairs on campus, they can try to have alumni in their team. These alumni can build better connections, connect with students, provide practical advice, and describe the company's working environment. They can also act as a bridge to connect the recruiters’ requirements and the students’ profiles.
In short, the representative teams play essential roles to the organizations’ image, and firms should always bring the best representatives who are not only engaging but also knowledgeable. They should understand the company essence, hiring needs, and target audience. Also consider having a composition which can reflect the workplace environment in terms of education, diversity, values, etc…
Step 3: Working on Your Checklist
A job fair is a fair place, the job seekers have made their thorough preparation before setting foot onto the venue and the recruiters should do the same. Below are some activities recruiters should check before showtimes:
- Contact organizers: Want the best spots? Then book reservations. You should also ask for organizers' suggestions and tips on better booth locations, how to attract their audience or the potential of organizing employer branding activities.
- Train representative team: Make sure that they understand the company, requirements of open vacancies, and target audience. During these events, they should also be engaging and present, letting the candidates feel that both sides are interested in looking for opportunities to work with each other.
- Spread the news: Let the people on the job market know that you will be at the event. Interested candidates will come to the booth for in-person communication and discuss opportunities. Along with using owned media and advertising, you can also take advantage of organizers' promotion offers.
- Prepare supporting materials and tools: And of course, you must not forget your weapons before entering the battle. Consider bringing short and concise leaflets, original content, or something that offers advantages to attendants. If recruiters want to take resumes, having an Applicant Tracking System may be an optimal solution to submit their documents. Having an ATS may be helpful in this situation.
For more details on how to best prepare for a job fair as employers, check out our 10-Step Career Fair Checklist For Employers and suggestions on how you can screen candidates during these events. Rakuna’s pro tips for your next job fair:
- Posting some pictures during the event to attract last-minute candidates and build your online presence.
- A friendly atmosphere attracts more people. However, you should keep conversations within a time frame as long queues will turn candidates off.
Step 4: Handling Post-Event Tasks
Remember to respond and contact candidates. Job fair is a sourcing initiative and just the beginning of the recruitment process. The candidates you meet and are interested in today are not yours yet. The sooner you contact them, the more likely that talented candidate will remember the firm and show them you are interested as well. If recruiters fail to do it promptly, another competitor may be one step ahead, and the employer’s brand image can also be described as unresponsive or rude. Having a follow-up strategy is advisable.
Work with a representative team to measure the performance and benefits of each job fair the team has joined and how to improve next time. Measuring recruiting KPIs and comparing them with other events or sourcing initiatives will help optimize recruitment plans. Thorough evaluation will suggest whether your strategy is on the track and if changes are needed to meet the goals that the firm set.
Some Final Useful Tips and Tactics
- Use simple follow-ups forms - They can fasten the queues and extend the firm’s database. Recruiters can also have more time to discuss with potential candidates while reducing the time to ask and answer the same questions over and over again.
- Host a game or contest - interesting activities attract interested candidates and light up the atmosphere. Some recruiters may ask attendants to share photos of them playing in exchange for a freebie, and it will create great earned media. By and large, you want to have outstanding candidates, so how about the candidates who also want to see outstanding recruiters?
- Digitize the firm's booth - Those were the days when hiring officials used a ton of paper. If recruiters can connect to Wi-Fi, take advantage of digital devices, such as presentations on laptop screens, applied through ATS. Such simple actions can create the image of a tech-savvy and modern employer, which will be attractive to young talents, proving the standards of the organization.
Career fairs are like speed-dating events between recruiters and potential candidates, and of course everyone wants to meet their matches. Mastering this guideline will help organizations gain favors among job seekers, paving their ways to form a dream team to excel their businesses. We hope that with our provided guide, you will find yourself excelled in the game of recruiting.
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