If you haven’t noticed, you will soon, career fairs are back in business. Not only those annual college career fairs, but career fairs of all kinds are coming back in vogue! Mainly because talent acquisition as an industry refuses to believe anything new will actually work, but also because our senior executive teams like to see our recruiting teams ‘beating the bushes’ at career fairs!
It’s funny and very sad all at the same time!
The pros and cons of career fairs
Career fairs for the most part should have gone the way of the dinosaur. Let’s take a look at the reality of most career fairs. You have them during the day, usually at your local Holiday Inn convention center. Tuesday seems like a good day. 9am to 3pm, so the corporate talent acquisition pro doesn’t have to change their normal schedule. Career fair planners figured out in the 1980s if you want companies to show up, serve food and put them at times that won’t make the corporate folks work a minute more than they normally would.
Therein lies the problem. The only people showing up at the Holiday Inn on a Tuesday at 10 a.m. are unemployed people! Not that unemployed people can’t be good hires - they can - but let’s be honest, that’s not who your hiring managers are looking for. So, career fairs in theory are pretty worthless. It’s a dog and pony show for the talent acquisition department.
I will say, for most universities, career fairs are still something that matters and kind of work. Some military folks would argue their fairs are good also. But that IT fair you’re going to at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, yeah, those are worthless! So, is that ‘online’ career fair. It’s called a job posting.
With all of that being said, for all of those shortcomings, you still can’t kill career fairs! It’s like job boards and resume databases. As long as someone is going to set them up, you’re going to pack up your career fair display and giveaways and head on down to the Holiday Inn. So, I’m here to help.
Good giveaways for career fairs
If you’re going to go to career fairs, here is what you need to be giving away in 2015:
1. Frisbees! Just
kidding, don’t giveaway Frisbees, can you believe we used to give those out!? Really,
who wants a Frisbee when they’re looking for a job? I mean, I guess the logic
is sound, the person has a ton of time on their hands, let’s give them a simple
game they can play with other unemployed people while they wait to be called
about a job.
2. Pens. Everyone uses pens, but they especially use really good pens. Not fancy, good. There’s a difference. Think about your favorite pen at the office - the kind you like to use every day. The kind you have to buy on your own, because Mary in procurement gets the crappy ones by the gross.
3. Alcoholic drinks. Let’s face it. If you’re at a career fair, you could use a drink! Plus, it masks the smell of those who showed up drunk to begin with!
4. An actual copy of what your benefits are. The number two thing, besides a list of openings, people want to see on your career site is a list and cost of your benefits. Yet, most organizations still don’t have this available in a easy to find format on their site. Just give it to them already - this stuff isn’t secret!
5. USB memory sticks. First, you can never have enough of these things, every time you need one, you can never find one. Second, you can put a ton of information on it, so when the career fair candidate asks you something, you just hand them a stick and send them on their way.
6. Cute stuffed animals or some kind unisex kid toy. If you’re unemployed you can’t afford little gifts for the kids, that sucks as a parent. Parents love picking this stuff up for free and being a hero when they walk into the house.
7. 30 minutes of your time. Uh oh, did you see what I just did there!? This just got real. If someone is at a career fair, they’re desperate, they’re trying, and they need help. You have great advice to give. Give out 30 minute ‘career’ sessions with your team to go over the persons resume, their look, help them develop a story, etc.
Let’s face it, you’re wasting your time at the career fair, you might as well give back to the community. Find some good stories and spend a day scheduling a dozen meetings with potential candidates under the auspices of helping them on their career path. It would be the most valuable thing you ever gave away at a career fair!
Your turn: Does your organization participate in career fairs? What goodies do you give away?