Career fairs can be tremendously effective ways to meet and connect with many candidates in a short period of time. We all go into a career fair optimistic, thinking we are going to find a great hire. However, it is not as simple as showing up, talking to candidates, then going home.
Don’t just think of a career fair as an event that starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Instead, the foundation for a successful career fair is laid well before the event. Use these nine tips to increase your career fair ROI.
1. Invite candidates
Before each fair, PracticeLink provides exhibitors a list of candidates in the area. Email these candidates to let them know you will be at the event and invite them to stop by to learn more about your opportunity. Don’t forget to also invite any candidates in the area with whom you may already be speaking. A fair is a great place to meet in person.
2. Make your presence known
Post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that you will be attending the career fair. Share details about where and when the fair will be held. I see many posts about recruiters being at a career fair…right before the fair starts. Instead, post several times in the weeks leading up to the fair, so busy candidates can make plans to attend.
3. Arrive a day early (or stay a day late)
This is a great time to visit training programs in the area or meet with candidates you have been speaking with who might not have been able to attend.
4. Determine how you’ll collect information
Before the career fair, ensure you have a way to collect candidates' information. Not every candidate will bring their CV, so be prepared to gather information another way.
5. Update and bring literature
Career fair attendees collect material from many exhibitors. When they look through the material at home, how will yours stand out? Create your handouts with this goal in mind.
6. Pack some swag
Giveaways aren’t just to entice attendees to stop by your table, but also to remind them of you well after the event. Spending a little more on useful giveaway items can pay off.
7. Prepare your talking points
Practice—or even write out—some of the things you would like to say when speaking to a candidate. This practice helps make sure you don’t miss important points at a busy fair.
8. Plan an after-event meet-up
If you meet a great candidate at the career fair, don’t hesitate to ask to meet them for coffee the next day to continue the conversation.
9. Follow up
If you are not following up, you can bet another recruiter is. Call candidates, or follow up with a personal email, not a canned response. A personal email will also help you stand out from the crowd.
Attending a career fair can be exciting and rewarding. A little planning and intentionality will give you a solid foundation, enabling you to put your best foot forward and get the most return on your investment.