It’s here! Birds are chirping, leaves are budding, and if they aren’t already, the phones will soon be ringing. That means it’s time to hire! Every year we find the labor force changes. Experienced Baby Boomers are decreasing, inexperienced Millennials are increasing, and Gen X’ers are somewhere in between. Skilled labor is changing. That means how we recruit, hire, and train must change as well.
In this new environment, one of the most effective strategies we’ve seen is hosting your own job fair. In this article, we’ll outline a basic job fair event and provide some critical tips to making it effective.
The Basic Concept
Time is critical when recruiting- that’s because recruiting takes so much of it! Job fairs are an extremely effective way to use your time wisely. You’ll be able to interview more people and have a better idea of where they fit. Additionally, it gives employees from other companies a chance to check you out, without hurting professional respect among competitors.
Setup, Timing, and Frequency
We’ve found that Saturdays from 10 am-3 pm work great. Have your team arrive early to set up and go through some dry-runs so that everyone understands the process. Also, talk about the kinds of attributes you are looking for in potential employees. Everyone should be able to recognize a future team member– that will benefit you in the future as well.
Schedule at least two events, and on back-to-back Saturdays, if you can. If you have enough employees on your team, split the responsibilities for the two events. That way a team member only needs to commit to one Saturday. Also, make it a fun event. Provide hot dogs, popcorn, and water. If your employees are helping with the day, they will appreciate the free food.
We recommend getting aggressive. If you are looking to fill skilled positions, post flyers at your supplier stores as well as the local sandwich shop (ask the manager of course). For more entry-level positions, newspapers and other traditional places work. Even better, build relationships at local colleges, trade schools, and Vocational/Technical Schools. These are where your future leaders will be found.
How It Works:
We have found that any great Job Fair for labor trades consists of three parts, (1) Sign-In table with applications, (2) a Skills Testing area, and (3) and Interviewing area. Here’s a more detailed view of each.
Sign-in — Most attendees will not have a resume, so have applications ready to fill out. (Applications are always good, even for positions that require a resume or for people that have one). Have a team member stationed at the table(s) to answer questions and direct applicants. A quick review of the applications may help eliminate some applicants right away, including not having a driver’s license, too young to be employed, or missing documentation.
Skills Testing — This is our favorite part. The people applying may not have any experience or may not be able to describe what skill level they currently possess. Additionally, for an experienced person, your standard may be different from another company or person’s standard. For example, what they are considering a Lead Landscaper maybe a 2nd-year Apprentice to you. Here’s where you can create a series of simple tests that will help you understand the applicant’s skill level.
Note: Safety First! Before beginning the skills tests with an applicant, always ask them if there is any reason or injury that would prevent them from performing the actions. Also, be sure to have any necessary safety equipment available.
Interviewing — Here’s where it all comes together. Have a list of interview questions ready, from simple to advanced. An applicant rating form also comes in handy at this point as well. The rating form would show the results of the Skills Test. After a short interview, you should now have the information you need to let the applicant know where they would fit in your organization. That may be different from what they listed on their application. That’s OK, have a discussion about it and how you have the systems and training programs to bring them up.
When interviewing someone with skilled experience, be sure to discuss that you have our own ways of doing things. Yes, you’re open to finding ways to improve, but new employees should learn your way first
New times call for new ideas. Job Fairs have been one of the most successful in adapting to our new labor market. We’re sure you’ll find it successful as well.
Have you tried any new ideas this year? You can find out more ideas to help you grow profitably at our LinkedIn Group: Guiding Small Businesses to New Heights
All the Best