Career fairs are exciting, loud, hectic, and a lot of fun. They're great vessels for your organization to see and be seen. Follow these tips to create an effective action plan for your next career expo:
Determine Your Goals
First and foremost, you must know why you are participating. Companies use career fairs in a variety of different ways: sourcing potential candidates for open positions, using the career expo as a branding and marketing opportunity, and networking with other exhibitors for business development.
What are you looking to get? What constitutes a successful experience for you and your team? What are the quantitative and qualitative indicators that made your trip worthwhile?
These goals are not isolated. Create primary goals that address critical needs like candidate-sourcing. In addition, outline secondary goals targeting other initiatives that benefit your business.
Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience allows you to customize your messaging during and after the event. Note whether you're attending a general gathering or a highly-specialized (e.g. Boston tech engineers) job fair.
Your boilerplate pitch must be transformed to include relevant information attendees want to hear. You're more likely to align your offerings with their objectives (re: getting a job) through attentive conversation. In addition, you can provide value by directing participants to other resources even if they're not direct fits for your expertise.
Know Your Space
Contact the location's events management. Try to access a floor plan to gauge the measurements of your booth/table. Realizing that you have a larger or smaller space than you anticipated informs your decision-making. You are able to identify potential constraints and creative possibilities given your situation.
A clear understanding of the situation affects the time and effort needed to coordinate logistics. Here, your team is able to bring the proper amounts of necessary items. On top of that, you're able to budget for mishaps (e.g. traffic) with a detailed (but flexible) itinerary. Handle the smaller inconveniences and annoyances. Your team will be better equipped to invest in actual relationship development with prospects rather than worrying about fliers or parking spots.
First, create your team. Who's representing you? What does each person contribute?
Next, establish their responsibilities. What's the procedure for articulating your value proposition? What are your key talking points that must be communicated? How does that message change when speaking with fellow exhibitors?
Delegate tasks and foster ownership. Check in periodically to see how each teammate is progressing. Make yourself available to questions and collaboration. Be on the lookout for new ideas and improvisation.
Outline Your Investments
What's realistic for you? Unless your company contains actual events specialists, you may be stretching your team thin with unrealistic demands in addition to their normal responsibilities.
What is the actual monetary budget?
How much time should be spent planning and practicing?
How much manual effort is necessary?
Can you get repeat usage of your marketing collateral?
What tasks can be streamlined?
Knowing your inputs helps you determine your ROI and improve your process future fairs.
Gather Feedback, Measure, and Follow-Up
First, map out your evaluative criteria for a successful job fair. What are your meaningful quantitative and qualitative objectives?
Develop a scoring system for the resumes you receive and the interactions you have with people you meet. Who's memorable and stood out?
Next, set up a system for follow up contact. What is the time table for reaching out to stellar prospects? Who's in charge of keeping everything on track?
Ask your team for their perspectives. What went well? What could be improved? Compile these findings and commit to trying new ideas at your next event. Test, collect, and repeat!
Looking to build up your personal brand before your next event? Read these resources: