Spring is job fair season, and both employers and job seekers know that these events are excellent ways to make face-to-face connections. Job seekers like the fact that they can meet a variety of hiring mangers in a single day and in one location; employers like that they can collect lots of resumes and have a chance to meet the applicants in person and determine if they would be a good fit for the company’s culture.
With lots of jobs and talent to be had, both job seekers and employers know there will be a sense of competitiveness in the air. Job seekers want to make sure they stand out from other candidates and make a great impression on recruiters. Employers also create job fair strategies in order to attract the most qualified candidates — but a recent survey suggests that some employers are unknowingly pushing applicants away.
In a February 2015 survey of job fair attendees, conducted by TheQuarterRoll.com, employers noted that some job seekers would walk by their booths at the event and not stop to ask about opportunities. Employers said that job seekers were missing hidden opportunities because they assumed they already knew all of the positions offered. For example, a recruiter at a mortgage processing company was advertising administrative positions, but she also had open positions for a human resource generalist, a software engineer, and a payroll assistant. Job seekers wouldn’t know that unless they stopped and talked to the recruiter.
So, why don’t job seekers stop at every employer’s table and ask about job opportunities? That was one of the questions the survey sought to answer. While employers stated they thought most job seekers generally approached companies based on brand recognition or other marketing initiatives, job seekers stated other reasons. Based on their responses, the following tips are for employers who want to maximize the amount of traffic to their booths at job fairs this season.
1. Eliminate Distractions and Focus on Candidates
Job seekers said that they were hesitant to approach recruiters who were eating, talking or texting on a phone, frowning/disinterested, writing, doing paperwork, typing on a laptop, or engaged in a very long conversation with someone else. The reason given for the job seekers’ hesitation was they felt they would be interrupting the recruiter, which would get the dialogue off to an awkward or difficult start.
Company representatives that seemed unhappy to be at the job fair or appeared to not want to be bothered were a turn off to job seekers. On the other hand, recruiters that smiled and made eye contact were appealing to job seekers who may not have otherwise initiated conversations. A smile was taken as an invitation to approach the employer’s booth.
3. Have a Colorful, Attractive Display
Next to the recruiters’ welcoming behaviors, job seekers said the second most important thing that made them approach a company’s booth was its appearance. Nearly bare tables with only a few brochures on display were often passed over, while booths that had easy to read information on benefits, jobs, and available locations were favored. One observation brought up by job seekers was that the booths with easily read information gave applicants talking points that made it easier to approach recruiters and initiate conversations.
4. Stand Up
Job seekers stated that it was easier to approach someone who was standing than it was to approach someone who was sitting. The explanation most often given was that, when the recruiter was at eye level, it was easier to hear them above the noise of the job fair. Additionally, when the person applying for a job is standing over the seated recruiter and talking over the background noise, they may feel like they are “talking down to” the recruiter, creating an awkward interaction.
5. Bring a Partner
Big job fairs attract big crowds that can quickly become unmanageable if only one person is manning the company’s booth. Many job fair attendees want a few minutes of the recruiter’s time to ask questions about available jobs, explain items on their resume, or learn more about the company. Of course, recruiters also like to have the opportunity to speak to applicants. Many job seekers stated that they would feel intrusive waiting beside another candidate who was talking about their resume and would likely move on to another table. By having a partner at the event, recruiters can better manage visitors to the booth.
These five actions will allow recruiters and hiring staff to create a dynamic, welcoming presence at this season’s job fairs and draw in talent that may have otherwise walked by.