The job market is a roller coaster of opportunity. There are jobs to be had, but there’s stiff hiring competition on both sides. Enter job fairs! At their best, they can be a positive, comprehensive experience for both employers and job seekers. They’re great for networking and education, as well as for brushing up on skills of public speaking and elevator pitches. Of course, a job fair can be anxiety-inducing and more than a little bit frustrating for all involved, especially if you’re planning one. That said, consider the following job fair ideas to keep your participants engaged and relaxed, happy and motivated.
1. Choose a venue with natural light
A job fair is a very long day, made even longer at times by time spent in a ballroom or all-purpose lobby on a college campus. Create a more user-friendly event by booking a Peerspace! Select a coworking space, a multi-level loft, or a contemporary art gallery that will allow light and flow, keeping everyone energized for the task ahead. Among job fair ideas, this is one of the easier ones to accomplish.
2. Give away great stuff
Everyone loves presents, and luckily there are many job fair swag bag ideas. For example, print your logo on things that the recipient will really need and appreciate: pop-sockets, emergency phone charger, and pens (no, really, everyone loves a good pen). Want to stand out as an employer who genuinely cares? Hand out pocket umbrellas. That’s one a potential candidate will often forget to bring along. That said, if they’re already carrying an umbrella, it means they’re prepared for anything the day throws at them. Hire that person!
3. Offer style consultation
Cast a wider net by engaging unexpected vendors. Whether job seekers are fresh out of college or transitioning their career, everyone could use a guiding hand with their personal style. Invite a business wear specialist, as well as a hair and makeup artist to consult regarding an update to a candidate’s look. Keep it simple, and remember to be sensitive to what is already an emotionally charged day. Be mindful that you’re not trying to mimic a makeover show. Instead, help where possible and offer gentle advice for the future.
4. Host micro workshops
Knowledge is power. Provide an opportunity for job fair attendees and presenters to attend quick discussions on local or nationwide hiring trends, how to develop and deliver a 30-second pitch, or a crash course in tools for public speaking. Consider one-on-one coaching for updating a LinkedIn profile or formatting the job seeker’s portfolio to a blog. Invite hiring managers to facilitate topics that they’re comfortable with. Keep the dialogue light but focused. It’s great for networking and can serve as a non-threatening, small group icebreaker.
5. Consider booth layout
A standard 10×10 booth may be tight for some of your hiring companies. Consider that they’ll require ample room to display materials as well as to invite attendees inside, allowing them to have a brief conversation. A good work-around: build in several lounge spaces in the exhibit area for those who would like to conduct more extensive interviews. Out of all these job fair ideas, this one should be a priority!
6. Set up a print shop
Print is still alive and kicking! A practical job fair idea is to offer kiosks for potential hires to quickly create and print calling cards to distribute to potential employers. Additionally, advertise that resumes can be printed from a flash drive on site for a fee. Yes, they should be prepared, but things happen. Besides, think of all the time we’d save in our lives if we didn’t have to make that one last stop.
7. Establish a comfort station
No, not a toilet, although those should be well marked, too. Offer a charging station for a variety of phones, abundant water stations, comfortable seating, and refreshment break service. Include snack options that are fresh and light, nothing sticky or messy, and don’t forget to go heavy on decaffeinated beverages. Have a separate lounge for employers to avoid awkward interactions. Everyone needs to be able to remove the mask sometimes.
8. Prepare a survival kit
Offer a giveaway at the door for both attendees and employers: a recycled bag filled with mints (no gum!), lip balm, hand sanitizer, mini first-aid kit, and a reusable water bottle. This is one of the more thoughtful job fair ideas. Make sure you share the venue’s Wi-Fi password, too! Give your vendors an additional marketing opportunity: invite them to donate branded items.
9. Snap headshots
Whether it’s due to reasons of time, money, or simply not appreciating the value, so many people don’t have headshots. Everyone comes to a job fair looking their best, so what better time to have a professional headshot taken? This could be a complimentary service or for a nominal fee. Work with your vendor to ensure recipients will receive digital proofs within a reasonable amount of time. This is one of the most helpful job fair ideas for attendees, especially if they’re just starting their careers.
10. Go digital
Nothing beats face-to-face interaction, but efficiency is key during a marathon event day! Digital check-in and bar coded name badges allow everyone to track where they’ve been and with whom they’ve spoken; it also reduces that margin for spelling errors and typos in contact information. Pre-loaded employer info and attendee pre-registration will allow the right people to be matched to the right companies. Certainly job seekers should meet as many potential employers as possible, but if they have a strong writing background and an employer is only interested in engineers, they’ll know to skip that booth on the first round.
11. Arrange for transportation
Depending on where you are, parking might be an issue. Your job seekers may also come by bus or other public transportation. Looking for a job is hard enough. Make it easy for them to get to you by providing a regular shuttle from central locations to the front door of the job fair. It’s touches like this that turn a good event into a great one.
12. Contact the concierge service
Above all other job fair ideas, be sure to offer an on-site job seeker and employer concierge. This superstar should have the capacity to find solutions to technical difficulties, provide directions, have on hand fixes for wardrobe malfunctions (e.g. stockings run, heels break, rogue strings appear on suit jackets), and general moral support. Who couldn’t use some of that?