February Marks the Start of the Career Fair Circuit
Here’s How to Maximize the Opportunity
The job market is tough right now in just about every industry.
Manufacturing seems even tougher. Remote work options are limited in our shops and many of the traditional pipelines for Manufacturing candidates aren’t what they used to be.
One path to future employees and current interns can start at the college Career Fairs beginning in February. Getting your company name in front of the next generation is an opportunity to bring awareness to who you are and make hiring easier.
When we first tried it a number of years ago, we didn’t know what to expect, but we wanted to try something different. Now, we’ve been doing multiple Career Fairs (during both the Spring and Fall semesters) for many years with great success.
We’ve learned quite a bit about how to make them work for us. Here are our Top 10 Tips so you can be a hit when you visit a campus near you this Spring.
Top 10 Recruiting Tips for Career Fairs
1. Know Your Goals
You have to be clear on the kinds of students you’re interested in recruiting at the Career Fair. Typically, there are two things you need to identify: what college majors can be a fit at your company and what year students should be in. The majors are straightforward, although it’s important not to discount hiring Business majors to work in Manufacturing or Operations roles. Next, if you can hire Interns or Co-Ops for the summer or another semester, then just about any class year student could be an option. If you’re just looking for full-time hires, you’ll likely need to stick to a Senior.
2. Plan the Outcome You Want From the Students You’ll Meet
You need to know if you’re wanting to interview them on the spot, or just check interest as a feeder for a follow-up tour & interview at your company in the future. Interviewing at the Career Fair booth is difficult due to both the limited time and the noise level, so you should consider just getting resumes of interested students to invite for a visit at a later time.
3. Make Sure Your Website Lists the Opportunities
The students at the Career Fair will check you out online before meeting you. If they don’t get an initial sense of the opportunities at your company, they likely won’t stop by your booth. Even if you don’t have a formal intern program, having a Careers Page on your website with general language about your company culture can help spark interest.
4. Consider Using Your Customer CRM System to Track Your Applicants
In a typical 10 am-3 pm Career Fair, you’re likely to meet with at least 25-40 students. Having a system to keep track of them will ensure you don’t let any potential hires slip through the cracks. Building systematic workflows and emails is more upfront work now, but you’ll appreciate it the next time you attend a Career Fair and use the templates you’ve created this time.
5. Bring an Employee Close to the Age of the Students
Hopefully, you’ve got a few younger employees to bring to the Career Fair with you. It’s great for your young employee to get visibility with you, and their presence with you helps your company be more relatable to the students. Just knowing there might be some younger people at the company will make potential applicants at the Career Fair more comfortable.
6. Consider an Information Sheet for Students to Fill Out
It’s easy for students to give you a resume. Having them take a few minutes to complete an Information Sheet will streamline the data collection of their contact information, as well as help you check their interest in your company and program. Here’s a sample of our Information Sheet if you’d like to download it.
7. All You Need is a Simple Backdrop or Tablecloth
Career Fair booths aren’t like trade shows. The booths don’t need to be super elaborate, just professional. Putting together some brief company information (even just stealing it off your company website) is more than adequate to have on a simple backdrop. You can easily have it printed at OfficeMax on some display material. If you have photos of your employees, preferably some of the younger ones, that’s a bonus.
8. Bring a Few Sample Parts and/or Photos
Having a few things out on your table from your company helps get the conversation started when students come over. Fun or interesting parts, samples, or photos can be an easy way to break the ice and show some of the more exciting aspects of your business.
9. Bring Candy, Mints, or Something Else to Give Away
A little something for the students to take with them is always a nice touch. We used to take candy, but we found they were usually too nervous to eat it. Mints seem to be the best if you don’t already have some small promotional items that might attract the students.
10. Have a Follow-Up Plan for After the Career Fair Before You Go
Just like a trade show, the real success of the Career Fair is in the follow-up. Having a plan of what happens when you get back to your company will do two things for you. First, you’ll be able to explain the process to the students because they’ll want to know what comes next. Second, you’ll sound confident that there’s a plan being followed after everyone leaves for the day. Students like to know the path forward and you don’t want them to be worried that they’re going to get lost in the shuffle.
Getting the chance to talk to college students is a great opportunity and I hope these tips will help you take advantage of engaging with the next generation.
Spending time in conversation with young people with limited experience in the job market is both refreshing and enlightening. If you’re well-prepared for the Career Fairs, you may just find that spending time there could be some of your most important recruiting efforts