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What is a job fair? Job fair recruitment guide for employers

If your company is searching for people to fill several positions and wants to quickly find a large selection of candidates, try attending a job fair. In this article, you will learn about what a job fair is, as well as the benefits of participating in it and how to prepare for and take part in one. By following proper job fair etiquette, you can increase your chances of successfully recruiting and attracting employees who are qualified for the role and excited to work at your company. 

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What is a job fair?

A job fair is an event that employers and recruiters attend to find qualified candidates to fill their company’s open positions. Candidates attend job fairs to learn more about available roles in different industries and fields. Universities host career fairs for students to find entry-level positions to pursue after earning their degrees. Other organisations hold job fairs for community members and local businesses to attend. Job fairs are a great place to meet diverse candidates and learn about their backgrounds, skills and qualifications to determine if they are a good fit for your company.

Benefits of participating in a job fair

Participating in a job fair is a great way to gain access to many potential candidates who are eager to start a new role. Common benefits of taking part in a job fair include:

  • Building awareness of your company and its purpose: if your company is new, a job fair helps others learn more about it and the services that you provide. Job fairs are a way for candidates and community members to discover your company and tell others about it.
  • Choosing from a wider selection of candidates: you may find numerous candidates at a job fair, especially if it’s held in a large school or city. This gives you a wider selection of impressive applicants to choose from, which increases the likelihood of finding a suitable employee.
  • Networking with other business professionals: there are many businesses and recruiters who attend job fairs. This gives your company’s recruiters and hiring managers a chance to network with each other. Recruiters often build connections with one another to refer candidates to each other if the candidate seems better suited for a different company.

How to get ready for a job fair

Before attending the job fair, pick out which materials to bring, select team members to represent your brand and tell others you will be at the event. Putting time into preparing for this event makes it easier for you to make a positive first impression. Follow these steps to get your business ready for the job fair:

1. Develop your recruitment and hiring goals

Meet with your team members beforehand to discuss and determine your goals for recruiting a new employee. Define the qualities, traits and characteristics of your ideal employee. Set goals that establish which roles you’re searching for at the event so that your employees know which positions they are aiming to fill when meeting candidates.

Establishing job search goals also helps you determine which events to attend. For instance, if you hope to find an IT specialist, plan to attend a job fair for IT professionals or attend university career fairs if you are filling entry-level or internship roles.

2. Create booth designs and order merchandise

An effective way to represent your company is through your marketing material, merchandise and booth designs. Order fun merchandise with your logo on it that will make attendees want to stop and learn more about your business. These can be basic and practical items like pens, pencils or notepads. Give away unique items as well, like laptop cases, portable chargers or insulated water bottles.

Design pamphlets and other materials that inform candidates about your company’s benefits, employees and values. Collaborate with your graphic designer to create interesting signs and booth designs that best represent your company and make you stand out from other businesses.

3. Think of questions to ask candidates

Because you’ll be meeting with several candidates during the event, have a list of questions prepared to quickly get to know each person. Start by asking about their education, experience and career goals to determine if you have any relevant roles available. If you don’t have any open roles for them, request their information to contact them in case a role that matches their skills and interests is available later on. For candidates whose qualifications match any of your open roles, ask them more in-depth questions about their skills and experience. Examples include:

  • ‘Do you have experience using the software needed for this position?’
  • ‘Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?’
  • ‘What do you already know about this company?’

4. Market and advertise your attendance at the event

Tell others a few weeks in advance that your company is attending a job fair by marketing it on social media or announcing it on your website. Write social media posts that inform your followers that you are hiring and encourage them to learn more about your available positions at the job fair. Ask your audience to share these posts with candidates in their network who seem like a great fit for your company. Use your advertising budget to boost your social media posts to reach more people.

Tips for a successful job fair

If you have a fun booth design and an engaging team with you at the event, you can attract many impressive candidates to contact later and bring on-site to interview further. Below are some tips to follow to increase your chances of a successful job fair experience.

Provide business cards and wear name tags

Maintain your professionalism throughout the career fair by wearing name tags and providing business cards with your information on them. Each of your team members should have name tags for attendees to easily identify and acknowledge them. Your recruiters and hiring managers should have business cards to distribute to potential candidates. This makes your company easier to remember and simpler to contact to gain more information about the role.

Arrive early to set up the booth

Get to the event at least 30 minutes to an hour before it starts. This gives you enough time to get used to the surrounding environment, hang your signs and lay out your materials on the table. You will feel more relaxed and comfortable knowing you have plenty of time to set up and prepare for attendees.

Reach out to employees after the event

After collecting names, contact information and CVs, reach out to qualified candidates a few days after the event. Contacting them soon helps applicants more easily remember you and allows you to meet with candidates before they interview with a different company that they connected with at the event. Invite these candidates to a formal interview in the office to get to know them further.

Measure your results to determine what to improve for the next event

After interviewing candidates that you met at the event, get together with your HR team and employees who attended the job fair. Ask them their thoughts and impressions of the candidates that they met. Determine how many candidates at the event were valuable, qualified and impressive enough to interview. If it was successful, decide whether to attend the same event again or sign up for similar events.

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