Despite the rapid rise of online candidate searching, screening and job applications, the traditional job fair still has a place in the ever-evolving world of recruitment. While managers from a human resources department may end up losing a valuable day or two at the office to attend a job fair, the benefits of such an endeavor can far outweigh the negatives. For hiring managers unsure of whether or not to attend their first career fair, and for seasoned career fair goers doubting whether or not activity is still worthwhile in the digital age, review the guide below. It's time for job fairs 101.
Job fair benefits for employers
There are several notable benefits for employers that opt to attend a career fair. They are as follows:
1. The volume of candidates
The most conspicuous benefit for a human resources department attending a job fair is the sheer number of candidates that are present and readily available for a conversation, the Houston Chronicle explained. This is particularly useful if the job fair is at a college, as employers will have the opportunity to meet a plethora of younger candidates before opting to proceed with the interview stage, which can save time and money. Indeed, conversations at job fairs should replicate the kinds of chats that may take place during a preliminary screening phone call. The bonus for employers, of course, is that the interaction takes place in person, allowing them to read important non-verbal cues and a gauge a more accurate understanding of the individual, something which an initial phone conversation doesn't allow for.
2. Networking opportunities
Job fairs permit hiring mangers to network, not just with potential candidates, but also competitors and other key players in the field, Business Insider stated. Human resources professionals shouldn't underestimate the potential for making new connections at job fairs. As the source noted, although digital platforms have streamlined and improved business communications in innumerable ways, ultimately nothing beats an in-person conversation.
"Nothing beats an in-person conversation.'
3. Brand awareness
Even if a human resources team is unable to make an extensive number of connections, heading to a job fair can still be worth it for the brand awareness opportunities alone. Employers should regard a job fair as a four or five hour window within which to advertise and promote their organization. As Business Insider observed, job fairs are also a prime opportunity for good publicity. Simply having the company present indicates that the organization cares about diverse recruitment and is keen to get involved within the local community. This is especially true at high school and college career fairs.
Tips for job fair success
There are several key benefits for recruitment managers who opt to represent their organization at a job fair. The benefits will only come to fruition, however, if a human resources department properly prepares for the event. Recruitment managers are encouraged to check out the list of tips below to maximize their chances of job fair success:
1. Plan ahead
It's wise idea for a job fair team to meet prior to the event, so that roles can be designated and a plan of action devised. The Multi Cultural Advantage suggested that a team of four people is usually ideal, with each individual in charge of a specialty, department or group of jobs. The number of people on the team may of course increase or decrease, contingent on the size of the company in question. Each member of the team should understand in detail, prior to arrival, the area that he or she will be representing. For example, if team member A is in charge of sales, he or she should be able to talk to a candidate at length about the department, without the assistance of written material or notes. Preparation indicates to the candidate that a team is knowledgeable and the company successful.
2. Bring promotional material
Employers should bring detailed promotional material for candidates to take home, Direct Employers advised. It not only ensures that candidates will remember and learn more about the company, but it can also be used for wider brand awareness. It's advisable to bring more than enough to avoid running out.
3. Business cards
This is a no-brainer, but it's imperative not to miss this vital step: Each team member should come equipped with an abundance of business cards, as well as wear a name tag, Direct Employers stated.
4. Have a strategy in mind
Hiring managers are advised to have a semi-formal interview strategy in mind, Direct Employers explained. While interactions with candidates at job fairs should be friendly and conversational, it's still wise to have a list of questions which can be asked to learn more about a particular candidate. In other words, interactions should be treated as a pre-interview conversation – both parties are there to learn a little about the other and decide whether or not it could be a good fit.
5. Stand don't sit
Sitting is ill-advised at a career fair, the Multi Cultural Advantage argued. Standing creates a strong and welcoming first impression, so all team members should do so. Better still, managers should stand in front of their table and actively greet and welcome passersby over to the stand.
6. Watch body language
Hiring managers should keep their body language in mind. As with any interview, a smile and firm handshake are key components of making a great first impression.
7. Follow leads
There's little point in heading to a job fair and then not following up on any connections made. Candidates appreciate organizations that follow up and/or take the time to reply to emails and other queries. While teams are by no means obliged to offer an interview to every connection they make, maintaining contact is essential, even if it's to politely inform the contact that the organization is not interested in taking things further.