The key to a successful recruiting strategy is developing successful sourcing initiatives. One approach to consider is participating in career fairs, which offer recruiters a great way to interact with a diverse talent pool and pre-qualify potential candidates for the open positions you may have in the future. Whether you are new to career fairs or a seasoned pro, here are a few tips to help maximize your experience and make the most of your time out-of-office.

  1. Decide on booth setup, practice and ensure everything is properly packed. Your company may have more than one booth layout to be used for special events. An eye-catching booth may be what you need to stand out and attract potential candidates. Be sure to clarify the size specifications and restrictions with your event contact before shipping your materials to the venue. It is also a good idea to make sure that you can properly set up the booth or that someone else on your team will be present to help.
  2. Have promotional materials printed. Aside from having your business cards on hand, it is a good idea to provide some kind of promotional material to help attendees become more familiar with your company and corporate culture. This may be a one-page handout, brochure or something more creative to get the word out.
  3. Decide if you’re accepting resumes. When someone hands you a resume, will you accept it, or will you direct him or her to apply online? If you will not be accepting resumes on the spot, take the time to look at each one and ask questions about their education/experience, or give advice. Job seekers are looking to benefit from this event so don’t leave them empty-handed.
  4. Know which positions you are actively trying to fill. Be sure that your representatives are familiar with your open positions and hard-to-fill niche career opportunities. Career fairs attract a wide range of people and you never know who will show up at your booth! You may consider preparing a sheet of talking points for the staff working the booth to ensure your team covers all of the key points.
  5. Bring business cards and wear a nametag. Not all job seekers you meet will be a good fit for your company or open positions, but they may still use this opportunity to network and gain contacts in your industry. Be sure to wear a nametag and pass out business cards at every opportunity.
  6. Arrive in plenty of time to set up. If you’ve ever attended an event like this before, you know that things don’t always go according to plan. Be sure to arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to find your space, unload and get set up. If you are still setting up when the job seekers arrive, it could appear unprofessional and deter them from talking with you.
  7. Consider giveaways that entice job seekers to stop by your booth. Sometimes you need a little something “extra” to attract attendees to your booth and get them engaged with your recruiters. While you can’t rely on giveaways to bring in the most qualified candidates, it may create a buzz around your booth that is needed to start a conversation with the ones who are.
  8. Respond to inquiries and follow up ASAP after the event. Be sure to follow up and respond to all inquiries as soon as possible after the event. Finding employment is a serious matter for these job seekers, so don’t keep them guessing.
  9. Prepare questions or a brief interview to pre-qualify applicants. Chitchat is great, but the goal of attending a career fair is to find candidates for your jobs. Prepare questions to ask those who express an interest in your company to pre-qualify them. This ensures that you don’t waste your time, or theirs.
  10. Don’t sit. Stand in front of or to the side of your booth/table. Career fairs can be intimidating to job seekers—especially young job seekers— so the goal is to be as inviting as possible. Avoid sitting behind your table by standing in front of or beside your booth, and be sure to smile and say hello to those who pass by.

Looking for a career fair to reach a veteran niche audience? DirectEmployers 2013 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM13) will feature its first ever Veterans Connect Career Fair, taking place October 21, 2013 in San Diego, California. Registration comes with two complimentary tickets to the conference that follows, so be sure to visit the Veterans Connect website for more information!

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