Career fairs have been shown to be a terrific way to find qualified candidates you may otherwise not have had a chance to recruit. Going to the trouble and expense of sending company representatives to a career fair is worth it, providing you don't make mistakes like the following.
Sending two people who don't get along to the career fair is a bad idea. When candidates see reps fighting over how to arrange the display table or who gets to play the "lead," it appears like they are unhappy in their jobs. Not a good impression to make on a potential new star employee.
Making them wait
Dealing with a long meet-and-greet line just to hand in a resume doesn't fit in with most candidates' schedules.
"I attended this career fair just so I could make contact with one specific national company. But the line was so long I knew I would be in it all day, and I couldn't afford to miss out on other opportunities, so I never even gave them my resume," said one qualified woman in Chicago, who eventually landed a job with a competitor.
Entry level only
Make sure your reps don't turn away qualified applicants for positions for which they don't realize the company is looking.
Cameron D., a research assistant with a pharmaceutical corporation, says, "I took a day off work to attend a fair in Cincinnati to find a new R&D position at a healthcare company. But their rep claimed they were only looking for entry-level positions, even though their website said otherwise. Needless to say, I was more than annoyed. I left making no contact at all."
Deciding upon whom to send to represent your company shouldn't be an affair of picking straws, a show of hands, or choosing the least valuable employee on your payroll, like the maintenance guy. Know that qualified candidates will be assessing your company just as much as they plan to be assessed.
Beth C., a 23-year-old accounting major from Cambridge, Massachusetts, recalled her first visit to a career fair: "The girl interviewing me looked like she just finished washing her dog. Her hair was still wet from the shower, and she obviously hadn't ironed anything. It gave me a totally bad impression of what I had thought was a professional company."
Don't send people to the career fair who aren't deeply knowledgeable about the company they are representing. Your representatives should be able to answer specifically about basics like the history of the company and the current stock price in addition to the general corporate identity. Refusing to hand out business cards - a practice that is, unfortunately, common - is another no-no. You want to encourage contact with potential candidates in whatever way with which they're comfortable.
Remember, quality candidates can appear nervous, wary, or unprepared. They may not know what to expect when they first get up the nerve to walk up to a career booth. Give everyone a fair chance. You never know what you will find in that stack of resumes.
Kate Supino is a professional freelance writer and small business owner who writes extensively about best business practices and home topics such as gutter replacement.
3rd party anecdotes are responses from an anonymous survey conducted via the author's private social media page.