Recruiters, Stop Wasting Your Time at Job Fairs!

Photo Credit: Microsoft ImagesGuess what recruiters if you’re attending job fairs just to get out of the office and telling job seekers “We aren’t accepting resumes. Apply onlineyou’re wasting not just your time and the job seekers time, but the company’s money and possibly damaging their reputation!

I recently attended a local job fair. Of all the fairs I attend this is one of the better ones, ie attendees that are actually pursuing jobs not free pens and key chains. Normally I hear an array of negative comments about the “BIG BLACK HOLE OF HR” and the “I applied and NEVER, EVER heard back”, but not this time. However, I did receive my share of feedback from attendees and their level of frustration about other employers not accepting resumes and directing them to apply online. Well, wake up recruiters if that is you, then yes you are wasting your time!

I’ve learned over the years that the candidate experience matters at every level and I have changed my stance as a recruiter for job fairs. My goal is to be the most memorable employer at the fair. The one that made a personal connection and left a positive impression (regardless of my level of interest).

My strategy is to ask a couple basic, but insightful questions of the job seeker.  I do a quick assessment on organizational fit and then schedule an interview for the following week. Also I ACCEPT THEIR PAPER RESUMES! Oh lord, right? Some say the “paper resume is dead” well yeah in many circumstances it is not necessary but at a job fair it matters. The job seeker probably put a great deal of time, effort and possibly a lot of money into their résumé. They think that the job fair will offer them the opportunity to meet a real HR person and make a real splash but instead HR does the *talk to the hand* and asks them to apply onlineIt’s like a child that paints a picture for their parents and the parents say “Nice but we cannot hang that on the fridge, we will put it in the recycle bin” OUCH, that hurts!

Let’s recap what recruiters need to do to enhance the candidate experience at job fairs:

  • Make a personal connection by being friendly and memorable
  • Accept resumes
  • Be productive and schedule interviews! Nothing is worse than spending 4-5 hours at a job fair to leave with no interviews, it’s simply not productive.


Employers need to see that value in job fairs is more than just pushing their information out there, its their opportunity to build their network, increase their talent pipeline with a diverse group of talent.

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Sorry HR can’t help you!!

Sorry No People allowed in HRServing in an HR position requires a number of various skills, which include customer service. HR representatives are responsible and involved in all aspects of human relations in the organization, thus the critical importance of highly customer focused people is key to a successful HR department. Serving in a recruiter, talent acquisition or related position requires customer focus on both the internal and the external fronts. In addition to supporting our internal customers  we are providing serves to a number of external customers or potential customers such as; agency recruiters, community members, applicants, candidates, etc.. Here are a couple sure-fire ways to make sure your HR department shows commitment to both your internal and external customers.

Be accessible, BE A.C.C.E.S.S.I.B.L.E! You heard me!! Nothing is worse than the BIG BLACK HOLE of HR. I work for a medium-sized company and I cannot tell you the number of times applicants have said to me “Wow, I can’t believe I’m talking to a real person in HR! Usually, I apply to positions and never hear a word back!” All I think is “Wow, how sad is that! Way to take the human out of Human Resources!” While small and medium-sized organizations may have less challenges to connecting directly with their external customers, larger organizations still have that opportunity to make that connection. Organizations that care about their people, inside and out, will be accessible whether by phone or web. If HR is not accessible via the human resources site it sends the message that HR does not want to be bothered by people, they are busy and have work to do.

Listen to your voicemail,  better yet have someone else listen to your voicemail. I for one hate to hear my voice especially since my husband noted that I sound like the product of Fran Drescher (minus the east-coast accent) and Mini Mouse! Anyhow he was also the one that said to me “Why do you sound so angry on your voicemail?” I was like WHAT! Naturally, since it was coming from him I was defensive and said “I sound friendly and inviting, and professional.” He responded “You sound mean.” So I listened to it and wow I totally sounded unenthusiastic and I admit it… mean! Have you ever called another company HR department and they answer the phone in a dry, stale and irritated way that is exactly what I sounded like, boy was I embarrassed. I changed the voicemail to have more pep while maintaining my professionalism. To this day when I change my out of office messages I have to make a conscious effort to sound friendly and inviting, not overly professional and boring. Overly professional and boring will send the wrong message to external customers. It will say “Our HR department is stale, archaic and we don’t care to interact with real human beings.”

Answer the phone with a smile! I don’t care if you’re the recruiter’s assistant or the senior-executive-manager of recruitment /talent acquisition you need to answer that phone with a smile EVERY freaking time! If you happen not to answer in a friendly way change your tone quickly while the person on the other end is stating the purpose of his/her call. Think of every conversation you have as your opportunity to sell your company to the person on the other end. Whether you end up employing that person or not, that person needs to leave your conversation saying “Holy cow, company ABC is so friendly, I really want to work for that company, they care.” . Another tid-bit for answering the phone, NEVER EVER answer with a greeting and an immediate “can you please hold”. Not allowing the person on the other end to speak is plain RUDE! You are a human being answering a professional line not an operator routing calls. Answer like so “Hello thank you for calling ABC, my name is Bonnie Ungaro. How many I help you?” Once the person has stated his/her purpose then you may ask to place them on hold.

Customer Service is in every facet of what we do. Just because you’ve “made it”, you’re no longer working retail, serving burgers or whatever customer service field job you had in college you need to have customer service at the forefront of your mind. Every single interaction is an opportunity to sell yourself, your company and your employer brand. How many times have you walked into a store and not been greeted at all or the greeting was subpar? How did that experience make you feel about that store? Well consider yourself as the greeter for your company. Make every interaction you had count EVERY SINGLE TIME!