Job seekers invest so much time in their job and career searches that it becomes a full-time job for them. For companies, even the most impressive resumes fail to give them a complete picture of the candidates. Career and job fairs are employment matchmaking venues that benefit both sides. As the person responsible for the communications plan, it's important to tailor your approach so it reaches the channels that job candidates are most likely to frequent -- enabling both parties to get the most out of the experience.
Career Fair Vs. Job Fair
Organizations attend job fairs to let job seekers know what job opportunities they have. Job candidates who attend get a picture of what jobs are popular, and they get to meet different kinds of employers -- for example, both private and non-profit organizations. At career fairs, however, job seekers should prepare as they would for an interview, complete with professional attire, their resumes and work portfolios. At these fairs, candidates network and meet with people who have authority to interview and sometimes, hire on the spot. Your communication plan needs to address these distinctions so attendees are suitably prepared.
Print and Electronic Media
Use both public relations and advertising as your budget allows. PR activities include press releases that you send to newspapers, online publications, television and radio stations, including college campus publications. If your advertising budget is limited, try running online ads on popular online job boards. If the career or job fair is sponsored by a community organization such as the chamber of commerce, check into getting free public service announcements from television and radio stations, but don’t rely on these alone. Since they are unpaid, the stations will only run them when they have available air time, which is often late at night when audience numbers are low. And, of course, don’t forget free online and social media sites.
Procuring sponsors can carry a lot of weight in your communications planning. Sponsors can be a major employer that is participating in the job fair, the state’s employment agency or the chamber of commerce. Getting a sponsor can help with promotional costs, refreshments, supplies and also add credibility to the event. Expect to offer your sponsors the opportunity to put their logos on your posters, flyers, ads and other promotional materials. If your budget allows, hold a reception for your sponsors the evening before or after the event as a thank-you.
Flyers and Posters
Visit college career centers and ask the folks there to post and distribute flyers and posters about your fair. Get permission to post them in other campus locations; dormitories, cafeterias, libraries, the campus post office, lobbies and department offices are good options. Include vocational and trade schools in the distribution. Other distribution locations include the state employment commission office, chambers of commerce and organizations that cater to veterans. Include nearby towns and cities within commuting distance.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.