Why Are You Attending a Career Event?
Before you sign up to attend a career event or career fair, you should take a step back to reflect and understand why exactly you want to participate in one. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Do you
- need to fill open positions
- want to generate general brand awareness
- want to be exposed to the top talents in the market
- want to start building your employer brand?
Also, think about the target audience you want to reach. By defining your goals and the target audience first, you can ensure that you pick the right format and event and that you will have the greatest return.
How To Identify And Pick The Right Career Event
Secondly, it’s important to look for the right event. You can easily find hundreds of career fairs out there, but you should look for the one that best matches your pre-defined requirements and goals. Some of the factors you should take into consideration when making your decision are:
- The focus: Who is the event targeting, both in terms of attendees as well as companies? Do you fit in?
- The formats: What formats does the event offer? Is it only a standard career fair with booths or are there better and more interactive ways to engage with the participants?
- The size: Is the event a mass-event that has thousands of unregistered attendees or is there a limit on the number of attendees and companies?
- The attendees: Who are the attendees, and what backgrounds and seniorities do they have? What is the quality of the attendees going to be?
- The organizer: Who is the organizer of the event? Is it a professional organizer or a student association and/or group? Do they have experience or is it the first time they are organizing this event?
- The character of the event: Is the event exclusive and by invite-only or open to anyone? Do the attendees need to go through an application process or can anyone just register and walk in?
How To Strategize and Plan for the Career Event
After you have decided which event you’d like to attend and before the event will take place, you should start preparing for it. Here is a short overview of what to keep in mind and plan for:
1. Plan your career event participation
- When: As soon as you confirm your participation
- What: Start with the different formats the event offers - which are the formats you’ll be taking part in? What do you need to plan and organize in advance?
2. Get your colleagues involved and on board for the career event
- When: After you have completed the initial plan
- What: Once you know the different formats and program points you need to cover, think about the internal resources you need to involve and on board for the event. Start reaching out to your colleagues, get their buy-in and block their calendars in advance.
3. Plan the content for the career event
- When: After you have completed the initial plan
- What: Get involved in the detailed planning of your company’s participation in the event. If you have the opportunity to pitch your company or hold a keynote, talk about the vision and mission that the company is trying to accomplish. If you can give a workshop, use it to make the talents feel like they’re already part of your team by showing them what working on an exciting project would look like. If you only have a stand to be present at, make sure to prepare and share briefing/talking points with your colleagues. Focus on showing real insights into your company in every format you take part in.
4. Booth and merchandise for the career event
- When: 8 weeks before the event
- What: Think about how you can prepare the booth (or whatever stand you will have) and what merchandise and “swag” you’d like to bring to the event. What is the situation at the event? Do you need to bring or organize anything in particular? Do some roll-ups and goodies suffice? Make sure you know what to prepare and bring, and have everything ready in due time to avoid last-minute stress.
5. Final alignment before the career event
- When: One week before the event
- What: Before the event takes place, you should get everyone on the same call or in the same room to discuss the structure, strategy and to do’s for the event. This will help you create critical alignment and have everyone on the same page.
How To Maximize Your Output from the Career Event
As always, there are typical Dos and Don’ts to maximize the output and opportunities of such an event.
Involve colleagues from other teams and not just HR
The attendees want to learn more about the people and opportunities at your company through varied and personal insights. Their questions are going to expand beyond your recruiting and hiring processes, and you want to be able to provide actual insights, so you should bring a diverse set of colleagues (and not just your HR team).
Make it personal and avoid the statement “check our website”
Attendees come to an event to learn about you, your company, and get a feeling if they fit in. Telling an attendee to “check the website” makes the whole point of meeting and engaging with attendees redundant. Worst still, this response is perceived very negatively by most attendees. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are looking for, and provide honest answers and useful insights.
Make it interactive and don’t just pitch or sell your company
If the recruiting event offers you the chance to be actively involved in program formats and not just have a booth, make sure you’re not just repeating the standard facts about your company or singing praises about your organization. Actually “open your doors” and take the students and job seekers on a journey into your company and why you personally enjoy working there. Nobody likes to be bombarded with sales pitches - the attendees are attending the event to get a “behind the scenes” insight to see if they can envision themselves as part of your team.
Gather useful data and don’t get overwhelmed
You have the chance to engage with the attendees at the event directly, use this as the first touchpoint in a long-term relationship. Don’t waste this opportunity: If you don’t get the attendee information and CVs from the organizer, and even if it’s quite a lot of work, you should try to collect as much data as possible from suitable attendees during the event yourself.
Do The Necessary Homework
At the end of the day, participating in the recruiting event and meeting attendees is only the first part of the job. As important is to keep the promises you made during the event, such as follow-up emails with a little thank you note and the open positions you are trying to fill. These little gestures go a long way and will definitely help you stand out from the crowd and lead to higher conversion rates down the road.
Lastly, after the post-event follow-ups are completed, you should gather your team together to reflect and analyze the results of the event. Benchmark the results against your initial goals to see if the event participation was actually successful.