Hiring HR Remix

How Do We Improve Job Fairs?


It’s day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge and I’m up early in the AM writing this due to plans yesterday evening. Turns out that if you don’t write your blog posts on the weekend and work full time its hard to blog everyday. Who knew?


Today’s questions asks: “Tell Us About Something You Think Should Be Improved.” I thought of a number of things in the HR space and settled on job fairs. I heard about the awfulness of job fairs from a friend who recently attended one. She is unemployed due to a layoff.


She attended a job fair recently,  brought lots of resumes and no employer took her resume. Instead they told her to apply online. My friend did give her business card to some recruiters and took theirs as a reminder to apply online but was a little disillusioned by the insistence that she apply online.


I listened to this story and understood this differently having been on the recruiting side of the table in the past.  Everything goes through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). You cannot get around the ATS.  


Readers of this blog are familiar with the ATS.  It may be a simple portal that allows candidates to apply, it may be setup with sophisticated screening that includes keyword recognition or “fit” assessments. Either way the ATS is here and at many companies you have to apply through the ATS to get to the interview and get hired.


So now that we don’t accept paper applications and we have a little man sitting in an ATS that scans your resume for keywords what is the point of the job fair? Shouldn’t everyone be searching online and just apply for your job?


Job fair’s aren’t necessarily a waste of time. It helps a company build a presence and recognition in the community. It helps recruiters meet candidates for positions they may not have available right now but could in the future. And it helps candidates learn more about companies in a more relaxed setting then the interview.


A couple ways we can make job fairs better and update them for the 21st century:

  1. Set up laptops, ipads or tablets where applicants can search your jobs at your booth.  Maybe they find something and you can talk with them about their background and they can apply right there.
  2. Update your application for the digital/mobile age.  If you can’t afford ipads/tablets and laptops, encourage your applicants to search for jobs on their phone or tablet but make sure your website and application process is mobile friendly.
  3. Have a space or room set aside where applicants can apply or create an applicant profile in your ATS.  This gets their background and experience into your ATS and you can search later. Of course this only works if you search you ATS for candidates.  
  4. Make your booth memorable.  Instead of the usual trinkets that everyone else has, make your booth a charging station or refresh/snack station.  Offering people free charging and/or food and water draws the crowds and makes you stick out. This works at conferences all the time

Those are my early AM thoughts. What about you? How do you think we can improve the job fair experience?

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