In the current economic state that our country (and others around the world) is facing with the recession, the unemployment rate is sky-high despite the efforts of many. What we’re beginning to see is the light at the end of the tunnel, with companies starting to hire again, actively recruiting in their communities. What the recession has taught (and is still teaching us) is that we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.
The recruiting landscape is ever-changing. In order to remain effective and relevant, recruiters are being forced to either roll with the punches or risk becoming obsolete.
Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how recruiters can stay on top of their game as they prepare for career fairs, both on campus and in their communities:
Find your voice. Your employer brand is a big deal to prospective candidates. How do you describe the career opportunities available? Are your job descriptions and company brochures written in Legal-approved “corporate speak” or are they simplified, and easy to understand? Beyond the basic career fair collateral, are you using platforms like YouTube, blogs, and other social media sites to promote your company with real people, showing candidates a true “day in the life”? The topic of employment branding is a big thing to cover and deserves its own blog post, so I’ll elaborate more in the near future.
Make a commitment. Do you show up on campus once or twice a semester for career fairs and wonder where the students are? Do you do the same thing at a general community career fair? Making a commitment to local community or campus organizations and groups will not only help you educate potential candidates on your company, culture, and career opportunities, but it can be a positive branding opportunity. Ask yourself this question when you start measuring your results: Am I giving as much as I expect to receive? More? Less?
Show up. One of the biggest issues in recruiting is that it’s a field where the need is immediate and not typically thought about long-term. When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. You’ll be hiring again in the future, right? Why not view this as an opportunity to start filling a pipeline of candidates? Even if you can’t afford to fly corporate recruiters across the nation to participate, I would encourage you to engage your local managers if possible. They’re the voice of the community. You can still communicate that you’re not hiring at the moment, but focus on the fact that you want your company to stay top of mind when the positions do open up. Branding is the main point here. Be honest, but take resumes, think about the pipeline, and continue to educate the masses on the opportunities available with your company.
Show up prepared...and coordinate. “Show up” is intentionally reiterated here. If you’re a recruiter working with a large company that has field operations, think about coordinating with the local managers and corporate so that you’re representing one enterprise at the career fair. Nothing is worse than showing up from corporate, only to find out that the local representative are already there or from the other side, showing up from the field with you (most times) limited supplies and have corporate show up with the nicer, fancy materials and booth collateral. What message are you sending to candidates?
Have a clue. The last point that I’d like to mention is that if you’re recruiting at any event (unless it’s a specialized, industry-focused event), have a general knowledge of the common entry-level positions with your company. Just because you don’t recruit for that job, doesn’t mean that it’s ok to tell candidates “well, that’s not my area of responsibility” or worse, make something up. The best approach to this is to simply say, “You know, I’m not 100% certain on that area, but I’d be happy to take your resume back to the right person. In the meantime, please be sure to apply online for the jobs of interest.”
Here’s the call to action:
Job seekers: What are you frustrated with regarding recruiters at career fairs? Tell us - we can't change without your input!
Recruiters: How can job seekers and career services work with you to maximize your recruiting experience? What do you wish we (or you) would do better? Same thing goes here as it does above - tell us so we can adjust!
Career Services: What are the challenges you’re hearing from both sides? Again, we can't fix it if we don't know it's broken.
Have a comment? I welcome them! It helps with transparency. Please leave your comment below. I’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible. If you prefer not to have your comments publicize, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
Let’s work together to change the world of recruiting and job seeker resources for the better!