Making the Most of a Career Fair (for Employers)

Our last two posts have focused on two important aspects of recruiting: making your online recruiting more effective, and writing an effective job posting.

A strong job posting is great, and so is a concentrated online recruiting presence. But sometimes, nothing beats real face-to-face interaction if your business is looking to quickly fill an open position. And for that kind of interaction, it’s hard to beat a career fair.

We actually have a career fair coming up soon–on Tuesday, September 17th, just a few weeks from now, we’re having our AIM Careerlink job fair at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

So in preparation for our upcoming career fair–and really, for any job fair that you may end up attending–we’re going to offer a few tips for employers to make the most out of a job fair.

  • Be eye-catching. At a career fair–especially a larger fair with a lot of employers–you’re, for better or worse, competing for attention with other employers. Although you certainly want to come prepared for your actual discussions with attendees to the fair, you can help attract attention to your booth with a professional, eye-catching display. Don’t be obnoxious, but do make your booth stand out from the crowd.
  • Remember the career pipeline. Even if you’re looking to hire someone right away, you shouldn’t automatically brush off anyone who isn’t immediately interested in a position. Especially in areas with local universities, you’re likely to see a lot of students in attendance. Just because those students aren’t able to start a job tomorrow doesn’t mean that they can’t be a valuable asset to your company later on. It never hurts to have a pipeline of potential employees, and keeping in touch with such attendees could end up paying off when you have more open positions later on.
  • Let people get connected. This is pretty basic, but you should give attendees several opportunities to keep in touch. Have lots of business cards prepared, have a clearly-marked sign-up sheet for interested attendees to leave their information, and try to be as accessible as possible.
  • Plan ahead. Again, this seems basic, but it’s often overlooked. Don’t go into a career fair expecting that you’ll be fine without preparation. While you shouldn’t have a script planned out for conversations with passers-by, you should at least spend some time thinking about how you’ll respond to different questions from attendees. More preparation will help you appear more professional, and will also make for a much more engaging experience between you and any potential employee that you talk to.
  • Treat your booth like a living job description. Much of our advice from yesterday’s post about writing an effective job description carries over to how you should present your company in a booth at a career fair. Be clear about what you’re looking for, highlight your company’s upsides, and perhaps most importantly, go out of your way to be personable. Career fairs are as much a social affair as they are a recruiting event, and being personable and interesting will help make a long-lasting positive impression.

Except in the most unique of cases, you probably won’t walk out of a career fair with your open position filled. But what you will have is a number of strong candidates and their resumes, and most importantly, a little bit of time spent actually getting to know people who are interested in your company.

While surfing through resumes is a great way to vet potential recruits for you new company, career fairs offer a convenient, efficient way to cover the questions-and-answers that are typically asked in an introductory interview.

By correctly preparing yourself for a career fair, you can come out of the whole experience with a pretty good idea of who you want to hire, and how they’d fit within your company. Career fairs may not be miracle work, but they’re certainly highly effective for sorting through and trying to find the right people.

You can find more information about this year’s AIM Careerlink job fair here. Employers interested in registering for the career fair can register through our registration page here. Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the rest of AIM’s annual events, you can see our events page here.