When it comes to entry level and volume hiring, there is a recruiting method that is significantly underutilised in the digital era, and that is the good old-fashioned career fair. I say that with an obvious caveat, if you are looking to hire specific niche skills, they are usually a complete waste of time, unless you happen to be Google or someone of that standing. But for the rest of us mere mortals, career fairs are great places to hire in large numbers and very quickly. However, most businesses turn up at a career fair without much of a plan and so don’t reap the benefits. If all you are doing is standing around a booth, you are not going to be that successful.

Provide free gifts

Step one to being a popular choice at a career fair is to provide gifts to all who visit you while you are there. Most folks opt for the traditional free gifts. Items like customised pens, t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, and calendars. Now while they are handy, they do not help you stand out from the crowd and they can be a bit hit or miss. How likely is it that someone really wants a t shirt of your company? The way to stand out is to get creative, especially as not everyone has a large marketing budget to spend on having 100s of t-shirts made. One of the best examples of creativity I have ever seen is a small SME who offered a free beer to the first 100 people who filled out an application. It only cost them a few hundred dollars to buy the required bottles of beer, and as an SME that most folks had never heard of before hand, they ended up with over 500 sign ups in one afternoon as word got around.

Host an event at the event

If you want to really stand out work with the organiser to host an event as part of the career fair. You will be surprised at how eager the event organisers will be to help you do so. The better their event the more participants there will be. So, most organisers will have the common sense to help you to help them. Some of the best ways to capitalise on such an opportunity is to host a lunch and learn, or a breakfast round table before the career event starts. You could have your Talent Acquisition Team offer a workshop on how to prepare a CV or share interview tips. There could be a Q&A with your company leadership team sharing stories and insights in to how your leaders grew their own careers. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. It ensures you get a captive audience before the event starts and everyone will want to come and have a look at your booth once the career fair formally begins, even if its only to seek advice. But while they are there you can get their application details. 

Show off the Brand

Finally, its critical to show off your brand at the event. This does not mean you should have a nice poster and a generic video showing the office. It means you should have real life authentic experiences to share with those who are in attendance. If caring for the community is a core part of your company, why not ask for some of those from the community to come and speak to potential applicants? Instead of the generic video, why not create a long video of all your employees explaining why they stay with the company, in self recorded clips? Hell, if you are an award-winning company, bring those awards down and show them off at the booth! The objective is simple, avoid the generic corporate nonsense and ensure you stand out, and people remember who you are.

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