By Heidi Sawyer, JobsInRI.com
You stroll into the convention hall carrying a box of tri-fold brochures, your laptop, and the latest corporate swag. You've been here before. You see the same employer faces that you see at every event. You nod, smile and say, "Here we go again."
Sound familiar? Starting to feel like you are just going through the motions? Questioning if job fairs are effective anymore?
With some simple adjustments you can change that. Today, job fairs are not simply about hiring. They are about making connections, giving people a positive impression of your organization's employment brand and being an expert in your field, while lending some advice to those looking.
Imagine that the fair attendees are your friends or relatives. They could be experienced workers that unexpectedly found themselves unemployed after 15 to 20 years with the same company, frustrated college graduates that have limited experience and a costly degree or hardworking folks who may not have been afforded the luxury of post-secondary education. When talking with them, put yourselves in their shoes and try to make that human connection.
Recently, I attended a career fair and met an older gentleman with a solid resume. He explained his story of becoming unemployed after being recruited away from a successful role with another company. Shortly into his new venture, the company needed to downsize and took the typical "last in, first out" approach. Understandably, this fellow was feeling a little down on his luck. I took a moment to review his resume, offered him some advice on organizations that were hiring that might fit his skill base and reminded him of the value he brings to the table and to keep his chin up because it should only be a matter of time until he finds theperfect fit.
I immediately noticed an increase in his confidence through his posture and a look in his eye. To my surprise, when I arrived back to the office the next day, I had received one of the most heartfelt emails in my career. It read: "Thank you for being that moment of hope on my journey to finding my new career." Wouldn't it be nice to know that you were someone's moment of hope? Think of the impression that would leave on that person about both you and your company's employment brand.
Event planners are adding more educational components to career fairs, such as keynote speakers, educational breakout sessions and panel discussions. This change is helping to attract more passive job seekers to the fairs and educate them directly on what hiring managers want. As an employer, you have a wealth of experience and advice to share. Consider taking the time to offer a workshop on how to navigate the job market. If you don't have the time to develop a workshop, simply offer resume, interview or social media advice at your booth. Provide job seekers with a view into the HR mind. Not only will your insight be well received, you will leave the person with a favorable view of you and your company.
In closing, a job fair is ultimately a large networking event. Seize that opportunity, get to know people, build relationships, provide them with some helpful information and you will leave there a little better off than when you went in . You may even find that perfect candidate that meets your company's needs.
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About the Author:
Heidi Sawyer brings a fresh and common sense approach to personal development, along with more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and training. Since 2006, she has specialized in working with small businesses and non-profit organizations on their employment advertising campaigns, helping them to reduce costs and make the right hire the first time. It is her creativity and passion for helping others that lead her to the role of Field Marketing Coordinator for JobsInTheUS.com. Heidi has been a key player in developing and facilitating an internal community outreach team as a way to foster an engaged staff, while giving back to others in our community. You can reach Heidi at hsawyer (at) JobsInRI.com and LinkedIn.com/in/HeidiSawyer.