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  • Amy Oviedo

Job Fair Advice

-Spoiler Alert- My Most Common Recommendation Is: DON’T GO.


While scrolling my Facebook feed, I recently ran across a public poll from a fellow talent acquisition professional asking: What is your recommended giveaway at a job fair?

My response was one word: Jobs?


Let me start by saying, I mean no offense to the asker. There are a multitude of methods within our profession and, if something is working for you, and can be done with kindness and candidate focus -by all means- keep doing it. Personally, I rank the idea of spending the day at a job fair pretty low on the list of productive ways to recruit candidates. The return on time and preparation invested simply doesn’t track. If you find yourself attending a job fair or are looking for alternative sourcing methods, read on to see my recommendations.


First the Exceptions:

Job fairs sponsored by the military, their outplacement services, or by a specific college can be a reliable source for quality candidates. This assumes, of course, that sourcing college grads and military personnel makes sense for the position(s) you are looking to fill. If you work for a large enough company, the option of hosting your own, industry specific, job fair may also be a fruitful option. A well-executed Open House can be a candidate goldmine, if you have a solid network and referral plan in place for the talent you’re seeking.


Foregoing the Snark to Answer the Original Question: Giveaway Ideas

If you find yourself at a job fair for the day and feel you must have a give-away, noticeable candy like a ring pop or candy necklace works to pull the eye to your table and encourage conversation. If it is within your budget, a better choice is to offer a raffle for a large prize. Ask attendees to enter by submitting a resume or business card.


Or, Instead of a Giveaway:

Ask to be seated next to one of the top-recognized employers (assuming you’re not one of them). Respectfully recruit from their line. Strike up conversation with candidates as they wait. Ask them what is drawing them to this employer. Share what you can offer that may be similar or unique perks that draw candidates to your company. At the very least, get them your business card.


Job Fair Alternatives:

I’m a firm believer in never knocking one strategy without offering an alternative. So here are a few:

  1. Build partnerships with schools or trade associations. You’ll find these entities are happy to have a trusted recruiter or employer to which to send top candidates. You can easily tailor your partnership based on your employer or the roles you are looking to fill.

  2. Trade your time at a job fair for time at a trade event. Get a booth with your sales team. This allows you to hand out business cards to all the people inquiring about your products. Remember to ask for referrals, as well as chatting about their own interest in your company.

  3. Utilize outbound sourcing. If you know your target audience (and, in most cases, you should) DON’T rely on hope that some of them may come to a generally targeted job fair. It is far more fruitful to target them directly. Meet them where they are.


I value and respect differing perspectives. Have strong opinions on job fairs? Let’s chat on LinkedIn. Message me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyoviedo/


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