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Job fairs
  • Job fairs offer a level playing field for both recruiters and recruits because neither has the advantage of being on their home turf.
  • Because the average contact at a job fair booth is less than three minutes, the initial contact and presentation needs to be strong, professional, meaningful, and fast.
  • If a company fails to plan, execute, or follow up with recruits, chances are the company will not realize a decent return on their job fair investment.

Job fairs are an excellent and often cost-effective tool for reaching many prospective drivers in a short amount of time, and at one location. However, exhibiting in a job fair and hoping a few prospective drivers will visit the booth to see what the company has to offer is kind of like going fishing hoping a few fish will jump into the boat.

Job fair facts

The typical job fair environment is unique in that the playing field tends to be level for both the recruiters and the recruits — neither has the advantage of being on their home turf.

In addition, the normal interview process is generally done one-to-one — during which, the driver will learn about one carrier. In a job fair setting, a driver will learn about many different carriers all in the same day. Consequently, most drivers attending a job fair will tend to have very limited attention spans. This means the opening presentation needs to be powerful and to the point. But more importantly, it must be attention-getting and holding. The average phone or in-person driver interview takes about 30 minutes. The average contact at a job fair booth is less than three minutes — meaning initial contact and presentation needs to be strong, professional, meaningful, and fast.

Know the audience

Generally speaking, a motor carrier job fair is attended by three types of driver candidates — each demonstrating very different behaviors:

  1. The casual seeker. Casual job seekers are the window shoppers at job fairs. Unless something really catches their eye (and even then, they will tend not to buy), they’re just looking. Casual seekers are usually the toughest sell.
  2. The knowledge seeker. Knowledge seekers are the classic passive job candidates. The important thing to understand about knowledge seekers is that they will choose a carrier or switch carriers if they find what they’re looking for. Initial presentation is critically important when interacting with a knowledge seeker.
  3. The active seeker. The hottest target of most motor carrier exhibitors is the active job seeker. The serious job seeker will typically spend less time collecting brochures and waiting for assistance at a booth. Consequently, while a company is tied up with a casual seeker, a real hot prospect may be walking away from the company and towards the competition.

It’s critically important to not get tied-up with candidates who are not really serious about securing new employment. Asking simple questions like, “May I help you?” or, “Do you have any questions?” will not generate the information a company needs. Better opening questions might include, “What prompted your interest in our company?” or asking the direct question, “Why are you here?” This helps focus the company’s time and energy.

Once the company knows the level of interest of the job seeker, they can then sell to that level. Job recruiters may get frustrated if they try to make a company presentation to everyone. However, they can get better results by getting to know the candidates interest level first, before deciding how much time and energy to invest in the individual. Keep in mind that everyone at the show is a prospective driver candidate, regardless of interest level or what kind of job seeker they are.

Exhibiting proper booth etiquette

On average, fewer than eight percent of job fair attendees are greeted with a handshake when they visit an exhibit booth. Initial impressions are critically important at job fairs since the average length of interaction is less than three minutes. A simple handshake can:

  • Create a sense of trust and respect,
  • Help differentiate a company from the competition, and
  • May be utilized as a tool to introduce the company to a prospective employee.

Is it ever acceptable to leave the booth? Definitely — job fair fatigue, stress, and boredom can set in even for the most seasoned exhibitor. Get up and walk around every couple of hours. Not only is it good to keep moving, but it also affords the opportunity to see what the competition is up to.

Three additional exhibit booth etiquette tips to keep in mind are:

  1. Always maintain a positive attitude. People like dealing with people who like their jobs and are generally enthusiastic about the companies they work for.
  2. Try to acknowledge every observer. Often, the serious job seeker will stand a few feet away — not needing information but wanting someone to talk to. If the recruiter is tied up with another attendee, at the very least, they should smile and make eye contact with each observer.
  3. Having representatives hold something in their hands, such as a brochure or cup of coffee, is a good way to utilize body language to speak volumes. Folded arms or hands in pockets might create a bored or negative impression.

Bottom line: Attendees need to view the company and the booth as approachable.

Return on job fair investment

Whether the company utilizes a standard 8 x 10-inch tabletop booth and a simple display, or a 1,000 square foot monster exhibit — complete with the company’s NASCAR entry and newest trucks all cleaned and polished on display, if they fail to plan, execute, or follow up, chances are the company will not realize a decent return on their job fair investment.

In today’s competitive market, it’s not enough to have the most spectacular, attention-getting display. Prospective drivers are smarter than ever. Show without substance will not secure the valuable people that companies are looking for.