The Hiring Fair. It’s sort of like LinkedIn come to life. You set it up so that employers, recruiters, and job seekers can find each other in what you hope will be an easy and comfortable setting. Instead, what usually happens is that your employers and recruiters end up trying to shuffle hundreds of paper resumes, many of which are from people who are not at all suited for the position but want to expand their reach and network as wide as possible.
Obviously, you want everybody to get as much as possible from your event (these events are expensive to produce)! so what steps can you take to ensure that everybody gets what they want and need? Here are some suggestions that have worked for us in the past.
Offer an App. More and more conferences, conventions, and events have an event-specific app they offer either in place of or alongside of paper-based programs. These apps are great because they provide a way for the introverted attendees to reach out to those around them and because they facilitate feedback and networking among booth holders and job seekers that can keep going after the event. If you’re not a coder, there are tools and templates that you can use to help create your own event app.
Encourage Appointment Setting. One of the best ways for employers and recruiters to increase their chances of success is to set up 15 minute “flash interviews” with event attendees. They can have a signup sheet for these either at the event or, better, on their website prior to the event. Then they can do introductory interviews with people and speed the hiring process along. These interviews can be held right at their booths. Just make sure they know to have enough booth support to talk to interested passersby while interviews are being conducted.
Have an Educational Track. Many hiring fairs are just rooms filled with booths. People wander around for a few hours collecting business cards and handing out resumes and then go home. It is very difficult to make a good impression when this is all that is offered at a hiring fair. A better technique would be to offer a few panels and presentations in addition to the standard employer hall. You can set these up to cater to staffers and job seekers. Panels that talk about resume creation, interview tips, locating ideal candidates, etc. are all good ideas. You can also allow employers to hold presentations on their own companies for those people who might be interested in working there (this often helps cut down on the amount of paper resumes submitted at the booth).
Market Market Market. If you want people to come to your event, you need to market it well. This is true both for attracting recruiters and employers as well as job seekers. A good way to start marketing your fair early to companies and recruiters is by reaching out to personal contacts and asking for ideas on how to make the fair better this time. People are automatically more interested in events they feel like they had a hand in planning. They are also more likely to do their own marketing alongside yours.
Feedback. In this vein, it is also a good idea to have feedback forms on your event’s website. Have them up before the event asking for input on who should present, who should have a booth, what sort of ideas and skills attendees hope to learn, etc. Then, have a separate form up after the event that people can use to evaluate their experiences and make suggestions for next time.
You can turn your hiring fair into a “must-attend” event! Use these tips to help you get started planning the next fair you want to produce!