Job Fairs: First Impressions Matter!
Today’s post is brought to us courtesy of a Bonnie Ungaro, when she isn’t reading awesome HR blogs she is a recruiter in the greater Chicago area. Today she talks about how recruiters can put their best foot forward at job fairs. I love learning about recruiting so I hope she comes back with more posts in the future. You can connect with her on Twitter: @bonnieungaro or LinkedIn.
I have attended many job fairs in my HR lifetime. Time after time, it never fails, I see company representatives failing to engage with people! Job fairs can be costly, not just in money but in time. It is critical for company representatives to put their best foot forward, just like candidates are expected to do. As a company representative your one goal is to create an exceptional, memorable impression on the attendees. To make an exceptional impression you need to: engage, listen and be personable.
Engage with your audience. Start with creating an open and welcoming booth. This could mean moving your table to the side; removing any barrier between you and the attendees will create a warm and inviting space. Another welcoming sign is to stand in front of your booth or table. Notice I said stand? While I’m not implying you need to stand for the entire length of the fair, you should be standing a majority of the time. Standing shows attendees that you are ready to talk. Make eye contact, smile, and greet passersby’s.
Turn “passerby’s” into “stay and chat people”. Introduce yourself with your name, title and the length of time you have worked at your company. Ask if they know anything about your company. Personal, meaningful engagement from the beginning will make a lasting impression. Whether that person ends up being interested in your company or not, they will walk away with a good feeling and will most likely share that experience with others.
Listen intently. The reality is employers will talk, and listen to a 100 if not 100s of people in one job fair. Listening in a crowded room can be a challenge, however if you listen intently in the first sentence or two you can gauge where the person is going, and share information they are seeking or would be helpful immediately. Listening and asking the right questions will likely shorten the conversation; making the conversation an efficient use of time for both parties. Job fair attendees are your number 1 customer. Your goal is to ensure people walk away saying, “Wow, I really want to work at ABC Company! They are so helpful, friendly and personable! I’ve never experienced anything like that!! I want to tell others about this place, I want to tell EVERYONE I know!!!”
Lastly, be personable with follow up. You may be thinking, “How can I achieve that? I’m talking to 100s of people in one day!” Believe me, I know the level of exhaustion that comes with attending job fairs. Heck, when I’m packing up to leave I’m lucky I remember my own name! The responsibility does not lie solely on you. Create a sign up list for attendees to voluntarily leave contact information, including an email address. Once you return to the office, generate a mass thank you and informational email; provide information about your company, how to apply, and/or direct them to the company website. You can also use this email to promote your company careers social networks as a means to continue that relationship.
I have had great success with the personable follow up process. Most often when job fair attendees receive my email their response is shock. Shock that I took that time to connect with them and thank them for stopping and talking with me. While it does take time to do, the reward of an exceptional customer service experience is priceless! Please note you should be prepared to respond to people that reply to your email. Continued dialogue is part of a rewarding customer experience for potential applicants, candidates, and employees.
Providing exceptional customer service to job fair attendees will create a successful experience, whether your company is actively seeking candidates or not. Part of being an amazing recruiter is building pipelines. You never know where your talent will come from, so creating an above and beyond experience for all people you encounter at a job fair can only produce good results!