Recruiting fairs are an effective way to meet many candidates for your open positions, scope out the competition for top talent, and network with other recruiters. As an exhibitor, you might think that you have an advantage at such events; after all, you aren’t the one trying to impress potential employers and land a new job.
The truth is, though, that while most of the advice about career fairs is directed toward attendees, some recruiters need to do a little work to improve their images as well and avoid common mistakes. Just because you’re exhibiting at a career event doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make a good impression as well. Remember, candidates are evaluating whether or not they want to work for your company, so getting off on the wrong foot at a career fair could possibly drive talented workers to a competitor.
Mistake #1: Not Attending the Right Events
Not all recruiting events are created equal. Carefully consider the type of employees that you want to attract, and then research events that will attract those people. Work with college and university career development offices, and ask about events that they either coordinate or participate in. Some of the top specialized programs, such as law and business, host their own career fairs for students and alumni, which will give you access to a deeper talent pool than a generic career fair.
Mistake #2: Leaving Early
A day at a recruiting fair can be long and exhausting. However, just because there is only an hour left, and there aren’t many attendees left in the hall doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up and go. You never know when the perfect candidate could show up, not to mention that it looks unprofessional and sends the wrong message about your company when candidates (and other exhibitors) see your empty booth before closing time.
Mistake #3: Being Unapproachable
Career fairs are intimidating enough, and there is no need to make it worse by appearing intimidating or disinterested as you lurk behind a table. Be friendly and approachable, which means you should get out from behind the table, put your mobile device away, and limit your conversations with other members of your team or exhibitors. Greet everyone with a smile and a handshake, and be polite to everyone, even if you know there is no way you will ever hire them.
Mistake #4: Not Sending the Right People
A recruiting fair is not the place for your associate who has been on the job for a month or someone who isn’t well versed in your company’s hiring practices. Most jobseekers attend fairs because they want to network and learn more about potential employers, not just to drop off resumes. Send people who are well versed in your company’s hiring process, know which positions that are open, and are able to engage and answer questions confidently and correctly.
Mistake #5: Not Marketing in Advance
Advertising in advance will help attract candidates who are specifically interested in your company — and not just passerby who are there for free food and the chance to give their resume to anyone who will take it. While event organizers will certainly do some advance marketing, do some of your own as well. Use social media, send emails or postcards to prior applicants, and advertise in the fair’s program book to spread the word that you’ll be at the fair and eager to meet candidates.
Mistake #6: Not Being Prepared for “Hot” Candidates
If the perfect candidate shows up at your booth, are you ready to take action? If you aren’t, another exhibitor might be. Be prepared to set up interviews right away, and give those candidates the tools they need to follow up. You might even consider setting up interviews in advance. Invite attendees to submit resumes before the show, and set up meetings during the fair with the most promising candidates. That way, you’ll be ahead of the game in the hiring process.
Mistake #7: Not Following Up
Put yourself in the jobseeker’s shoes: Is there anything more frustrating than having great interactions with a dozen employers, only to never hear from them again? After the fair, follow up via mail or email with everyone you met, thanking them for their time and telling them about the process going forward. If you won’t be contacting candidates who aren’t selected, let them know. Following up is not only courteous, it also empowers those candidates you are interested in to be a bit more aggressive and get the ball rolling.
Career fairs are a valuable recruiting tool, if you handle them correctly. If you avoid these mistakes, your recruiting events will help you find great employees — and build your company’s brand.