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Recruiting for potential employees is a never-ending job, and is more effective with a diverse set of approaches. Posting jobs online will probably always be a primary avenue, but job fairs are one possibility many recruiters forget to consider. Read on to decide if job fairs are for you, and how to go about it if they are.

What Is a Job Fair?

A job fair is an event that puts employers and potential employees together in a physical or online space. Employers come expecting to fill open positions while at the job fair. A job fair is also an opportunity for a company to promote its name and brand to more people and to network with other employers.

Career Fairs vs Job Fairs

A career fair is more geared towards students or soon-to-be graduates.  It might include pre-medical, pre-law, business, and other graduate opportunities. It is not necessarily centered on participants finding jobs that same day, but rather is an opportunity to provide information to prospective employees and network with other employers. It is also a useful tool in getting your name out there as a company.

You are likely to talk to more people at career fairs, as it is a networking event that can be a bit more informal as opposed to hiring people like you would at a job fair. However, at career fairs you might interact with and schedule interviews with people who are interested in working for you.  Both career fairs and job fairs are a great opportunity to meet more applicants and help your company brand grow.

Are Job Fairs Worth It?

Naturally, you want to know if job fairs are an effective use of your time. That will depend on your situation and industry, but here are some reasons why many recruiters choose to go to job fairs.

  • Quality Candidates. Job fairs generally provide opportunities to meet qualified, motivated candidates; if they show up to a job fair, they are serious about finding a job. You will meet candidates who are looking for a specific kind of job or to work in a specific kind of industry, so they have training and perhaps experience.
    If you get most of your candidates from online job boards or LinkedIn, a job fair should provide you with candidates you typically wouldn’t meet, as some people prefer finding employment in person and interacting with the employer directly before deciding where they want to apply. Job fairs give you a great opportunity to meet diverse candidates with solid work experience.
  • Volume. Another benefit of job fairs is that you meet a lot of candidates in a short time, and interact with people from all kinds of backgrounds. You should be able to find a larger volume of candidates at one time than on online job boards.
  • Networking. Job fairs allow you to interact with other employers.  While working a booth beside another employer, you get a chance to know your competition. You can see what they have to offer and how it compares to your company, and you can create relationships that lead to potential partnerships down the road. You can also network with candidates whom you don’t hire now, but who could apply in the future or refer others they know who might be interested.
  • Learning the industry. Going to job fairs gives you the opportunity to understand what it might take for your company to take the next step. You can see what employees are looking for in their next job, what is making other companies successful, and what potential changes you need to make to stay competitive. Maybe you’ll see that you need to be more informative in your job postings, or that your company’s benefits and wages aren’t competitive with others.

Where You Can Find Job Fairs

Wanting to attend a job fair, but not sure how to find one? Here are four places you can look:

1. State Employment Agencies

State employment agencies often sponsor job fairs. Go to your state’s government website and look for an events page.

2. National Career Fairs

National Career Fairs is another organization that specializes in in-person career and job fairs. This is helpful if you are wanting to broaden your candidate pool outside of your local area.

3. Handshake

If you are targeting college students, Handshake is a great organization to check with. They run virtual job fairs for entry-level jobs and internships.

4. Local Educational Institutions

Universities generally host career fairs, but it is still important to be aware of what events local universities are putting on. Keep an eye out for any job fairs put on by local high schools, community colleges, and universities.

How to Succeed at a Job Fair

It is important to prepare and strategize before you go to a job fair.  If you don’t go in with a plan and simply show up with the intention to talk to people, you will not be as successful as you can be if you go in with clearly defined goals and strategies.

Step 1: Have a Game Plan

What do you want to accomplish while you’re there? Are you more focused on networking, finding potential candidates, or filling as many positions as possible? What do you want candidates to remember you and your booth for? Do you want to be flashy and give out lots of swag?  Are you wanting to be as simple as possible? All those are things to consider. The ultimate thing is to be yourself. If this is your first time, or you are more quiet and reserved, that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Find what works best for you.

Step 2: Set Goals

How many jobs do you want to fill? What jobs do you want to prioritize? How many people do you want to talk to?  What companies do you want to network with, and what do you want to learn from them? Set tangible goals that you can achieve while you are at the job fair.

Step 3: Know the Fair’s Demographics

It is important to know the demographics of the people who attend the job fair. While you can’t know for sure who will all be there, it is important to know what kind of people might be attending. If the job fair is at a university, it will likely have a lot of students or soon-to-be graduates. If your job fair is held in a city with demographics that tend to be older or is more saturated with a certain industry, consider gearing your booth towards people of those demographics.  Whatever the demographic, make sure you do your homework and understand as best you can the type of people you will be talking to.

Job Fair Checklist: Everything You Need to Bring

Another part of being prepared and effective is to show up with everything you need.

  • Your booth. For in-person events, you need to create a booth or a table. Learn what is provided and consider what you want to add. It might be as simple as bringing a green plant and a bowl of candy, or you might want a more polished, inviting look.
  • Laptop. Bring a laptop so applicants can apply for jobs while at your booth. Job fairs should provide WiFi, but confirm before participating.
  • Job posting board. This list of current openings can be presented in any way, even a simple poster board. Candidates need to see what jobs you have available before they apply.
  • Swag! Make sure you bring plenty of swag to hand to candidates.   Failing to do so might make a bad impression in comparison to other companies. Swag ideas include pens, shirts, bottles, candy, giftcards, hats, etc. The more unique your swag, the more likely you will stand out and attract people to your booth. Swag is helpful to give to candidates as it makes your booth memorable and gives them something to remember your company by.
  • Virtual job fairs. In virtual job fairs, you will still want to present professionally; you just need to present through a screen instead of a booth. Instead of swag, you can use giveaways, as described below, that can happen over the airwaves.

Ideas for Job Fair Giveaways

People always enjoy receiving things at job fairs, as it creates buzz and makes their experience memorable. You can give things out such as gift cards, do competitions, or even have them compete in quizzes.

Giftcards

Have candidates enter a drawing for a gift card. The kind of gift card doesn’t matter; the idea is to create buzz for your company. This will create excitement long after they talk to you at your booth. You can also have them enter into a drawing for a fabulous prize if they subscribe to your job board email list or if they like and follow your social media pages.

Competitions

As part of your booth, you can run some kind of competition for people to win. This could be a quiz about your company, a game, or guessing how many candies are in a jar. Again, this can create excitement as well as give candidates an idea of what kind of culture you have as a company.

Company Quizzes

You can have candidates fill out a quiz about your company and reward them for how well they do. This creates excitement around your booth and engages them in learning about your company and potentially working for you.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Job Fairs

How long are job fairs?
Job fairs often go most of the day, so maybe 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
How does a virtual job fair work?
In a virtual (online) job fair, employers and potential candidates meet through chat rooms, teleconferencing, webcasts, webinars, and even email.

Tanner Pierce

Tanner has over 4 years of HR professional experience in various fields of HR. He has experience in hiring, recruiting, employment law, unemployment, onboarding, outboarding, and training to name a few. Most of his experience comes from working in the Professional Employer and Staffing Industries. He has a passion for putting people in the best position to succeed and really tries to understand the different backgrounds people come from.

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