“Friday 16 September 2016. 23 science and technology companies compete for candidates at the Cambridge Network Jobs Fair. A month’s rainfall doesn’t seem to affect attendance as jobseekers flock to meet their dream employers.”
That’s the imaginary blog I could have written after squelching through torrential rain to be at the latest Cambridge Network Job Fair. Throwing my umbrella into the pile I was welcomed by the Cambridge Network team and invited to meet local employers.
I had the choice of going to a seminar by Amazon, the Royal Society of Chemistry, TTP and Domino Printing Sciences… Instead, I headed to the exhibition stands to see how successful these well-renowned companies really were when it came to job fair recruiting.
As I stepped into the exhibition hall I was faced with a sea of company banners, creating an intoxicating vision of innovation and opportunity. Eager developers and recruiters from every stand were eager to share their technological wizardry with me. I asked what roles they were recruiting for and – no surprise here – they were mostly looking for developers and engineers.
For a moment I put myself in the job seekers shoes. If I had the skills they were looking for and was faced with so much choice, how would I differentiate between the companies? I wanted to know what it was really like to work for one of these rapidly growing high tech companies. Unfortunately, by my eighth stand I found myself feeling underwhelmed. There was not a single company that stood out as being a great place to work, they had all morphed into one in my mind.
A large colourful board of photographs of people in bright green T-shirts lured me closer. Three people from Excell Group started animatedly telling me about the charity work they do through their Project Sunshine initiative. Every member of the Excell team gets two days out of the office each year to do valuable charity work – allowing them to get involved in projects that benefit their local communities (read more about Project Sunshine here).
They were so passionate about the Project, that we didn’t get round to talking about the roles they were looking to fill until the end of our conversation! At which point I was handed a simple but eye-catching double-sided postcard that listed the departments and opportunities available within them.
Now, weeks later, who do I remember from the Cambridge Network Jobs Fair? The Excell Group and Project Sunshine. Instead of getting lost in a sea of marketing banners, they had managed to stand out and grab my attention – then hold onto it.
What is the secret to job fair recruiting success?
- Think like a marketer. When planning your stand, think about your unique selling points (USPs). Why should a candidate work for you? What is different about your company, what’s unusual? Job fairs are a vast ocean of employers and it’s your job to catch the right candidates, then reel them in! As Excell Group demonstrated, that doesn’t mean spending lots of money on elaborate hand outs or fancy banners. Concentrate on giving job seekers an insight into what it is really like to work for you – and leave them wanting to join your team.
- Consider who is best to represent your company. The people staffing your stand should not only be prepared to handle all the questions attendees are likely to ask about your company, but also be enthusiastic and personable. Within the competitive environment of a job fair, you need to attract job seekers to your stand – so ensure the employees representing you are energetic, outgoing and ready to share your company’s story. They will be the face of your company and paint a picture of the culture and environment within the workplace. You don’t get a second first impression!
- Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd. One thing to keep in mind about job fair recruiting is that you may end up at a stand positioned right across from a company you consider to be a competitor. Do your research beforehand and find out what your competitors are doing – could you do the exact opposite? Don’t be afraid to make a strong impression at your next job fair in order to attract and recruit the top candidates.
Are you struggling to attract or recruit the right people for your company? It might not just be your stand at the job fair that’s the problem. A Recruitment Readiness Assessment will identify what you could tighten up on, and increase your chances of recruiting the people who will ultimately help your business to grow.