… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Career Fairs: Part Deux

Back in March I did a post on Career Fairs directed at Job seekers. You know, the typical what to do and what not to do to get the most out of attending. Well, it occurs to me that there were a couple more groups I need to address as well: Recruiters and Career Fair Organizers. And boom, just like that, I have a 3 part series.

So may I present… Part Two: Revenge of the Recruiters (or something)

Now you may be thinking, what advice could I possibly have for the recruiters who work the College and Career fair circuits? Don’t they have the easy job? They just need to show up and let the job seekers do all the hard work.

Ah, but there you would be wrong. There is a big difference between an effective recruiter at a career fair and one that is just wasting a day. And considering how much some of these Career fairs can cost a company in terms of fees, displays, materials, and payroll for the recruiters; trust me when I say that you want to maximize your time at these events or you might as well stay home.

Here’s what I recommend:
1. Stand up, get out in front of your display, smile and greet job seekers. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to say this. Job seekers are intimidated and overwhelmed by all the companies at Career Fairs. Sitting behind a table while playing on your phone isn’t exactly welcoming or conducive to a conversation. A lot of candidates would rather walk right past you than try to engage you. And that leads to …

2. Engage candidates in a conversation. Don’t just stand there reciting the same spiel and collecting resumes, or worse, not accepting resumes at all and just directing them back to your Career site. Ask candidates about what they are looking for, an experience on their resume, what they are studying, or even about their dog. Whatever. Just build a connection. Candidates will remember the friendly recruiter who shared their love of shoes more than the one who spoke at them for 5 minutes before moving on to the next person.

3. Network. It all comes back to networking doesn’t it? Get to know the recruiters at the tables around you or even walk around and chat people up. Be sure to get to know the Career Fair organizers as well. Just don’t use this as an opportunity to go around collecting other companies swag. Do you really need that drink cozy? No, you don’t. Put it down and focus. You never know what you will learn or who you can meet.

4.Learn from your competition. It is highly likely that if your company likes to recruit from certain markets or colleges, your competition probably feels the same way so it’s not surprising that you will find them a few booths down. This is a good thing. One, you hire the same type of candidate so this means you are in the right place and two, this gives you an opportunity to see their recruiters in action. What kind of displays and handouts do they have? How do they present themselves to candidates? And don’t forget to go over, introduce yourself, and yes, network.

5. Don’t go alone. This is right up there with wearing comfy shoes. Career fairs are so much easier if you aren’t flying solo. Besides, having someone to help lug your stuff around (those displays are heavy), they can help you set up, you can take turns going to the bathroom and getting food, and they can help when your booth gets swapped with candidates. Try bringing a manager or team lead as your second when possible. They can often provide more details about open positions and you in turn can learn more about what they look for in candidates.

6. Be respectful. You are there to represent your company so don’t be a dick. Don’t bash other companies, don’t be rude, and pick up after yourself. Arrive on time and try to stay the whole time. Don’t just drop off some pamphlets at your table and then disappear. If you sign up, show up. No shows hurt their company’s image with both candidates and the Career Fair organizers. Essentially, act like the professional you are supposed to be.

Nothing earth shattering in the tips above, but it’s surprising just how many recruiters treat Career Fairs as either a waste of their time or a break from their regular work. Like most things in life, you get out of Career Fairs what you put into it. Take care when deciding where to dedicate your time and follow through with conviction. You’d be surprised by how quickly you will not only see better results but also help build a great reputation.

Next time, I’ll offer up some tips for Career Fair organizers in Part Three: Career Fair Impossible.

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