For small businesses, job fairs represent awesome opportunities to engage prospective employees and potentially find the next great hire for the company. However, if you’ve never been on the employer side of the booth at a job fair, it’s important that you take the time to figure out exactly what you’re doing.
5 Tips for Successful Job Fair Recruitment
Job fair recruitment is a specialized form of recruitment, but it’s important nonetheless. In order to make these events worth your time, heed the following tips and pointers:
Set Specific Goals
If you show up to a job fair with generic expectations, you’ll end up with generic results. To make the most out of a job fair, set specific goals and objectives. This will help you maximize your time and narrow your efforts to ensure you’re engaging the right people in the right way.
Your job fair goal is the overarching outcome you’re striving for. For example, your goal may be to find three qualified sales candidates that will eventually lead to one new hire. Your job fair objectives are the individual boxes you check off to reach this goal. Using the previous illustration, objectives would include talking to 15 people an hour; gathering 25 resumes; or conducting at least five on-site interviews during the day.
The more specific your goals are, the more likely it is that you’ll actually accomplish them. As “unsexy” as this part of the process is, don’t ignore it. A solid vision is critical to the end result.
Choose the Right Team
One of the most important aspects of this entire process is choosing the right team. A job fair should be viewed as a strategic opportunity and, therefore, isn’t something you hand off to part-time staff and interns or outsource to a recruitment agency. You need your best people at these events.
Ideally, your team should consist of people who (a) have been a part of your company for at least a year, (b) are gregarious, (c) understand the vision of your company, and (d) are willing to put the interests of the company above all else.
Design a Compelling Booth
Your booth might seem like a small part of attending a job fair, but it’s actually one of the more significant elements. In most cases, it’s the booth that sets the first impression and attracts people to your table (or turns them away).
If you plan on attending multiple job fairs over the next few years, it would be smart to invest in a tent. There are many different kinds of tents on the market, including portable ones that provide shade, three-sided tents that help block out wind, frame tents (which are a little sturdier), and even misting tents that keep you cool during hot summer events. Choose one that makes the most sense for your needs.
In addition to using the right tents, think about things like signage, displays, marketing materials, and giveaways. Your booth should magnetize people and compel them to stop by to learn more.
Ask the Right Questions
Getting people to walk up to your booth is only half the challenge. Once you’re engaging prospects, you have to strategically manage conversations so that you use your time on the right people. This ultimately comes down to asking the right questions.
Questions should be designed in such a way that they vet the attributes you find important for the positions you’re filling. They will likely center around education, experience, technical skills, and soft skills. Finding ways to ask questions that are direct, yet not off-putting is the key.
Follow Up Swiftly
Remember that you aren’t the only company at these job fairs. If you find a candidate you really like, you have to assume that there are a handful of other companies that feel the same way. This is why it’s important to follow up quickly and take proactive steps toward setting up a second meeting (or even extending a job offer).
Top candidates should be contacted within 12-24 hours after the job fair. If these candidates don’t express interest, you should move on to the second tier of candidates within three to five business days.
Adding it All Up
You probably won’t find your next executive or business partner at a job fair, but you can find excellent salespeople, managers, and ambitious young professionals who could eventually play integral roles in your business. By taking the time to approach job fair recruitment with purpose and strategy, you’ll increase your chances of maximizing this time.