As the local tech industry experiences the sixth largest imbalance between the supply and demand for skilled workers, finding the right candidate can be a daunting task! There are a number of approaches to take, but one of the most tried and true is participation in a career fair. We have compiled a few tips to ensure your own success the next time you are tasked with manning the table for a few hours.
5 Ways to Maximize Your Career Fair Booth
Know Your Audience
More often than not, each individual event is catering to a different skill set or experience level. While looking for an Executive-Level position, you probably aren’t going to find your most qualified candidate at a college event, right? Similarly, attending industry-specific fairs are a great way to target a specific skill set, as well as networking with people from companies you could potentially work with in the future.
Before committing to a career fair booth, do your research on what type of candidates will be there. Ask the organizers questions about what to expect, any specifics you should be aware of and insights on previously hosted events at the location. Catering your message, booth and conversations to the audience will help you more effectively attract the right candidates.
Leverage Your Network
Once you have registered to represent your company at a career fair, the work has only just begun. If your intention is to meet motivated candidates, broadcasting your planned presence at an event can ensure attendees will be looking specifically for you. While the organizers are inevitably marketing the career fair to boost registrations, sharing posts across your own social networks will only serve to increase the number of attendees seeking you out on the big day. Companies who leverage their own network tend to get significantly more attention at the event, both from organic traffic of event attendees and also people seeking out Your Business Inc.
Choose Your Team Wisely
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to properly staffing your table. Are you signed up for a career fair focused on increasing the number of women or minorities in tech? Consider that your company’s representatives should not be entirely composed of white males. Is the event aimed at recent graduates? A group of enthusiastic, younger employees might draw more potential candidates to come learn more about your company – just because Jerry has been in charge of handling job fairs since the Reagan administration doesn’t necessarily mean he is the right person to send every time.
Be sure that your team is fully informed about your company’s open positions, the responsibilities of that role and any future openings that may be in the pipeline. If they aren’t the hiring manager, ensure they understand the process and how to relay important information to the right team members after the event.
Stand Out In A Crowd
Since you aren’t likely to be the only company in your field represented at a career-focused event, differentiating yourself is a key to getting attendees stopping at your table. Arrive early so you have ample time to set up and take a walk around the room to see setups from other companies.
The appearance of your booth is very important to attract the candidates you’re looking for. Create an inviting environment and be sure to smile. Career fairs can be intimidating for job seekers; make them feel comfortable approaching you. A tasteful sign, big enough to be noticed –– but not so large as to be a physical obstacle –– can make a big difference. Simple tablecloths can also give your booth a nice look.
If possible, creative swag can also draw a crowd –– for example, while pens and stickers have become a bit of a standard offering, items like wind-up toy robots or USB thumb drives not only make attendees seek you out, but also keep your company fresh in their memory for weeks to come. Don’t have any swag yet? Take a look around the career fair at what other companies have to chim up some ideas, and find ways to incorporate unique swag at future events. Some companies even offer giveaways at their table to further entice candidates to come by. (Need swag or printed materials? Some of our favorite companies include Porter Media Group, Discount Mugs, Corporate Specialities, Sticker Mule and Let Love Rule.)
As you prepare for the career fair booth, do your research on other companies that will be represented. Many event organizers will publish this information in the invite, promotional materials or are willing to share it with you directly. Learn about the companies if you aren’t already familiar with them, and be able to speak on what makes your company different
Be Honest About Policies
While engaging in conversation with job fair attendees, transparency is key. If you are having a productive discussion with an attendee, yet your company currently has a hiring freeze in place, making note of that is important. The last thing you want is for an interesting future candidate to have a negative impression of your business due to a lack of clarity. Additionally, should your hiring process have specific barriers to entry, such as firm educational requirements, make sure to mention this where possible. While you don’t want to give away any classified material, making sure that you are not wasting your own time or that of an interested party ensures a productive event for all!
Now that you are armed with extra pointers, it’s time to put them to work! We regularly host Tech Career Fairs, sign up for our newsletter or check out our Career Fairs page to see what our next one is scheduled for.