How to Prepare for a Recruiting Event/Career Fair
This past month, the Lemonade Stand team attended its first ever career fair! It was awesome and so much fun, and we got to meet with tons of cool people and students interested in coming to work with us. It really was so cool!
Once we got there, though, we realized that we maybe could have done a few things to be a little better prepared (and to have a more engaging/attractive booth) for all of the students that would be there.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few things that we took note of (a few that we did well, and a few that we definitely did not), so that you can be a little bit more prepared than we were and set your expectations a little bit better than we did for when you attend your first (or next) career fair!
You want your booth to be looking GOOD!
This is going to be the first impression that people have of your company. Before they ever come up to speak with you, they’ll make a decision about your company based on how nice your booth looks.
You might be the coolest company of all time, but if your booth is a completely empty table other than the crumbs leftover from your McGriddle breakfast that you had on the way down, nobody is going to know that your company is cool.
Get a nice, custom tablecloth with your colors and logo on it. Have some posters with your company information. Maybe even have a monitor playing through some slides that you built out with cool things your company has done or reasons why your culture is so good.
You could come at this from a million different angles, but the idea is to make it appealing and nice!
Give Something That Will Make People Remember you
This is one area that I do feel like we actually did a great job in.
We bought a large variety (anything that I could find really) of lemonade, and we set ourselves up as Lemonade Stand the Lemonade Stand. Very creative, right? Didn’t take very much creativity, but luckily we have a cool company name that allows for something like this.
Anyway, the point is, find a low-cost item that you can give away to people. In total we spent like $125 maybe $150 on this, and it was worth every penny.
Having something at your table that people know you are handing out makes people want to come up to talk to you. Now, I know that you probably don’t want to chat with people who are only looking for free stuff. I’m not really interested in that either; however, I think that only really happened to us once or twice. The rest of the people that came up were genuinely interested to meet with us and talk about our company, and they were heavily influenced to come over to our table because of the free lemonade that they knew they would get.
An important aspect of this is to give something that will actually make people remember your company. Everyone is going to be handing out chapstick and pens. Be a little different. It goes a long way.
This is not an area that we excelled in.
I know that, in today’s world, people are leaning more and more away from the idea of the traditional business card, but I cannot tell you how many times I wished that I had a tiny little card with all of the information on it than anyone would ever need to be able to contact me about a potential employment opportunity with our company.
Get yourself some business cards!!
We did have a little flyer with some of our information on it that we were able to give to people, but the business card is just so simple and nice. It would have made a huge difference for us, and I highly recommend that you go that route.
Bring people along who are friendly, talkative, and will make people want to come and work with your team.
Not much more that needs to be said about this one, but at these events you will be competing for the attention of students/people with all the other companies that are there. You have to be engaging right off the bat or else they will just move along to the next digital marketing company (insert your own industry) and not even give yours a second thought.
Know the Positions you are Hiring for
I kind of hate to admit this one, but I could have been A LOT more prepared on this front.
We had a lot of spots open, and this was our first little trial run to understand what it’s like to go to a career fair, but man! I wish I had gone with a lot more detail regarding the various spots that we were hiring for.
For example, we were looking for a few web developers. Now, I’m an accountant, ok? I’m learning as much as I can about the different teams at our company, but I definitely don’t know everything. When people would come asking super technical questions about a career in web development, I didn’t always have the answers. This made us appear unprofessional and like we didn’t even know what we were doing. Who wants to come work as a web developer for a guy who knows about web development? Not my best moment.
Suggestion – either be prepared for this kind of thing. If you’re hiring for a web developer, know what that means and what questions people might ask you, and be ready to answer those questions, or bring someone to the event from your web-development team who has the expertise that these people will be looking for.
Set yourself up for success!!
You should know the exact spots that you are looking to fill, what kind of experience you need/require for those spots, and what kind of people you would be looking for to fit well in those roles.
Know what you’re looking for! If you don’t go in knowing what you’re looking for, then you won’t ever know when you’ve found what it is that you needed.
Keep Good Notes
You are going to meet tons of people – potentially hundreds of people! It is impossible to remember each and every one of them. You might even be thinking “Well, I won’t remember all of them.. But the good ones I will.”
Wrong. You won’t. Trust me.
If you met someone and you thought, “Yeah, they’re perfect!” Write that down!! Take down their contact info and make sure that you follow up with them. Going to an event like this is completely pointless if you get home from the day and can’t remember anyone that you talked to.
Take more notes than you think you’ll need! This is one area that we thought we did well in. We jotted a few things down after talking to someone or after getting their resume from them.. But then we got back to the office, and it was nearly impossible to pick through all of those resumes and remember who specifically we had wanted to touch base with.
Taking extremely detailed notes about the people you interact with will save you a lot of time and headache afterwards.
Hopefully that was helpful in some way! I would have loved to have a small guide like this before we went to our first career fair, so I am really hoping that you were able to get something out of this that you can use when you go to yours.
As a final thought, I just want to say that the best strategy you can have with all of this is to be unique. So many of the booths there (perhaps even ours a little bit) all looked the same. Everyone is going to bring some of the same things. Some of that is necessary, and it will be fine.. But any way that you can find to make your booth unique and to make it stand out from the crowd, I suggest that you do it!
If you find a way to make yours the one booth that nobody feels like they can miss, you’ll have the best chance at finding the best talent out there and the right people to fill the roles that your team so desperately needs.
Go the extra mile, and make yourselves unique.
Good luck at your next career fair!