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Making Your Company More Visible at a Job Fair?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the improve-your-visibility dept.

Businesses 86

moszern asks: "The startup I work for is growing to the point where we are need to do some serious hiring. We are toying with the idea of setting up a booth at a upcoming local college job fair. For the most part it seems these events are all the same with nothing much distinguishing each company from the next. Have you ever been to a job fair where a company had a very unorthodox booth or way of attracting potential employees? What would you want to see at a job fair to grab your attention?"

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That's easy... (4, Funny)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851592)

What would you want to see at a job fair to grab your attention?
Strippers and kegs!

Re:That's easy... (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851676)

Strippers and kegs are for pussies. We demand hookers and blow!

Re:That's easy... (1)

NayDizz (821461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851896)

Correction: A stripper factory and beer volcano.

2 words... (2, Funny)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851600)

Booth Babes!

Re:2 words... (2, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851724)

And have them collect e-mail addresses of potential candidates on their boobs.

Re:2 words... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852492)

Booth babes!

Strangely enough you were modded redundant and the only other topic discussed so far was strippers and whores.... Oh wait.

Re:2 words... (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854134)

Not to mention that I was modded redundant when there was only ONE OTHER POST in the topic, posted one minute earlier. I was writing mine while the other one was being posted....

Re:2 words... (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856574)

Jupp...
Some female babes in tight catsuits or something, to attract the males or homosexual females.
Some hunky male "babes" in thongs or something, to attract the females or homosexual males. ...and a few sexy, modded computers set up, to attract the technophiles. ^_^

Boston-only (4, Funny)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851618)

A simple LED display of a cartoon character.

Re:Boston-only (0, Offtopic)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851744)

Boston-only

A simple LED display of a cartoon character.

+1 Damn Funny

Up here, we're still laughing over you guys and your over-reaction. "OH NOES! Here's a small package that looks funny! ZOMG EVACUATE THE CITY!!!"

Buya real booth (2, Informative)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851648)

Seriously, find a display company [alphaform.com] who can design a proper trade show booth for you. Think ahead and plan to use it for many functions.

Booth says legitimate. A 6' table with cardboard sign says rinky dink.

And dress like a successful business, not a geek

Re:Buya real booth (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852354)

Seriously, find a display company who can design a proper trade show booth for you. Think ahead and plan to use it for many functions.
And please, PLEASE, if your company logo embellishes the name in it, please have the company name in regular type elsewhere! Sometimes you see in the "program" interesting companies, but because of the crowds, you can't find their booth (you may be right on top of them) because one can't read the logo. (It may be for a company you haven't heard of, but whose name is interesting enough for a chat to find out if there are any suitable positions. But rather than catch people passing by, those of us who note down who we want to visit would like to make a beeline for said company. So rather than getting passers-by, you get people who are truly interested).

As a EU foreigner living in the UK... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856332)

I would appreciate a BIG FREAKING SIGN stating that you ARE willing to sponsor Work Permits or at least to *try* foreigners in order to accept them for a work permit.

I recently went to a Job fair here in the UK and I got really pissed of that almost every company had a sign stating "sorry we do not allow sponsorships". I went because my girlfriend, who studied a Master in manufacturing (she has a bahcellors in Inustrial Engineering) was trying to find a job. But it seems there is still a lot of racism^H^H^H^H^H^Hpreference for "locals" when it comes to hiring.

Maybe (well, not maybe... I know for sure) I am bitter because after trying to find so hard she could not get someone who sponsored her a work visa and she will have to return to Mexico this February. I am studing the PhD here and unfortunately as she is only my girlfriend we do not have a chance to get a permit as a "couple".

I know this will go against what most of slashdot people think as, being Americans you surely are pissed off of aliens getting your work. But I think that if there is someone who is *qualified* for the work it does not matter where he or she is from.

I would *love* to work in the UK after finishing my PhD. I am considering working on Scotland or Wales (the average people over these two places are 100 times more friendly than the average Englishman IMO) but again, I would need a work permit and, although I can work for one year (via SEGS visa program) I would like to stay here for more time.

So, returning on-topic. I think what you could *get* from all my rant is, do not be *elitist* (or lazy to make some paperwork). If you need people, you *can* find very good candidates from immigrators. Moreover, a lot of these people is *really* willing to work in order to stay and they will do their best; some of them would not mind being "exploited" in order to get some working experience in your country.

Note that I said "candidates". This does not imply that, just because someone is a foreigner you would have to employ him, just give him the *chance* and tell him that, if he succeeds you would try to do whatever you need to get his work permit/green card(USA?) etc. But please, put it in a BIG FREAKING SIGN. when you are there.

Oh, and btw... at least in *my*experience, boot babes might scare some people (at least me... maybe because I am the typical nerd =o)) in the C.S. and Soft. Eng. fields.

Try to get people's attention (you, the person in the booth). I remember passing through some booths just to see people *staring* at me while I was looking at their informaiton. A darn "Hello kid, might I help you" could have been useful.

Re:As a EU foreigner living in the UK... (1)

tont0r (868535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17857768)

I think you are getting confused. There are more reasons for companies not wanting to hire someone who isnt a citizen other than some hick screaming 'DAMN FOREEENERS TOOK OUR JOBBBSSS!!!'. Ive recently graduated and I definitely say that a good 50% of the companies around the campus simply CANNOT hiring foriegn people since the work they do is government(DOD) related. But there are lots of language barriers to get over as well. I knew someone in college who was extremely intelligent when it came to programming. However, no one could understand a word he said. Nothing against him, but if a boss cant understand him, what are you going to do?

All that being said, I have a sister that has moved out of the country to the EU. And it was HELL for her to get a job. Once she got married over there, it was fine. But in Ireland, she had to jump through hoops and hoops and hoops for a company to even consider hiring her. So please keep in mind that its alittle more than just 'DAMN RACISTS!'

Re:As a EU foreigner living in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17858042)

As a small business owner, someone would have to be damn convincing for me to sponsor them because that means I would have to do extra work to hire them on. Why bother with that if there are plenty other equivalents where I've got the system figured out.

Re:As a EU foreigner living in the UK... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858076)

As a small business owner, someone would have to be damn convincing for me to sponsor them because that means I would have to do extra work to hire them on. Why bother with that if there are plenty other equivalents where I've got the system figured out.

Well fucking yes... that is what I was talking about. It is just a matter of giving them (us) the opportunity. To get an interview/test or whatever. Not just to stick the darn "you aliens get out of my booth suckas"

Re:As a EU foreigner living in the UK... (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17863514)

Remember the amount of work involved in this for the employer. Unless they're big enough to have HR staff that know their way around the system, it can cost quite a lot of time/money. Does EU foreigner mean foreigner from inside the EU, or from outside it? There shouldn't be too much difficulty if you're from the EU here in the UK.

I'm not sure what it is essential for the employer to do for foreign employees. We have a couple of Chinese people at my workplace and I was under the impression they had sorted out work permits themselves - it's a small company without an HR department. I think the US has some sort of requirements for foreign workers that the employer has to sponsor them but I don't think it's true of the UK.

Free stuff (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851660)

Like free massages given by naked masseuses. Make sure you have your company name tattooed on their body somewhere or people will remember your booth, but not your company name.

Re:Free stuff (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851740)

. . .have your company name tattooed on their body somewhere. . .

No, not somewhere, but where people are already going to be inclined to look. This may mean selecting the masseuses for sufficient surface area in those places.

KFG

Free Stuff (1)

Admodieus (918728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851682)

Give something away for free that is cool, useful, or interesting. A lot of these job fair places give away little trinkets, which can be cumbersome to carry. A drawstring bag with your company's logo could be a good idea. Also, try to hold a raffle for something that requires them to write down their name and e-mail; then you can put together a mailing list to send out job opening offers.

Re:Free Stuff (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852468)

The answer is: free hot food and some current workers to talk with (and not to) the students. College students are always hungry. Don't skimp. Go for something nutritious and delicious.

SEX!!! (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851684)

Now that I got your attention...

And if that fails, take some hostages. Bound to get you some coverage.

Obligatory.... (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852278)

Bender: "Well, I was on TV when I took those hostages..."
Calculon: "I saw that. You were good."

Have you tried.... (3, Funny)

anlprb (130123) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851686)

Sacks of money? I hear that works well to get people to work for you. But I must admit, that is just a hearsay.

An American Flag (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851690)

No, really- that's what I'd like to see. It doesn't have to be just an American Flag of course, but some big visible proof that your small business is a part of a larger community- instead of merely taking advantage of the freedom you have to make money.

Re:An American Flag (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853602)

It doesn't have to be just an American Flag of course, but some big visible proof that your small business is a part of a larger community-

Like renaming a public building/stadium after your company?

Re:An American Flag (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860054)

Like renaming a public building/stadium after your company?

No, that's just advertising, and it doesn't fit in a job fair booth. No, I mean some symbol that you employees are a part of the local community, and that you have an interest in keeping local livability standards high.

Signs. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17851706)

" What would you want to see at a job fair to grab your attention?""

We're hiring!

Re:Signs. (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853048)

that was my thought...just bring some job openings, people will find you. And make sure to actually do a smidge of research on the university's programs, so you can accurately say what majors you're hiring from.

Make me interested in the job! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17851774)

I haven't visited too many job fairs in my life, so feel free to ignore what I say...

Don't let marketing/sales/HR people talk to engineers. Whenever I'm in a conversation where the person is obviously more interested in selling something rather than the work I'd be doing, I mentally check out and back away as soon as possible.

I also assume that they don't want someone whose number one priority is not selling a product. And I know I'll be critized for the last statement, but I'll pre-emptively defend myself by stating that my top priority is quality... Most of the time. (Reading /. may be higher iff my job sucks)

Re:Make me interested in the job! (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858246)

This is a very good point. Get someone there who can talk shop with the potential applicants. If you are hiring engineers, send an engineer along with your HR wonk. If you are hiring developers, send a developer along with your HR wonk. You get the idea.

The reason for this is that there is nothing more irritating than saying something that demonstrates that you have a grip on something that a company alleges to be hiring for, only to have the HR wonk's eyes glaze over, and end up rejecting you not using the correct keyword to describe that you do what they need.

Incidentally, if the HR wonk and the other person you send along to the job fair are attractive, it helps. Don't laugh, I'm serious. There are attractive engineers and developers and system administrators right here where I work. Politically incorrect as it may be, it is effective.

Hot chicks (1)

Ace905 (163071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851778)

Just like a trade-show where you're selling your product to consumers, you want to sell your company to these potential hiree's. You can't argue that hot women don't attract more men to your booth, and make them more likely to remember you and what your company does. The same goes for attractive men if you're trying to attract women.

It's hard to attend a trade-show now where at least one company hasn't hired for the show directly from a modeling agency. And of course there are staffing-companies setup for the same purpose [nationalev...affing.com] .

speaking of hot chicks [douginadress.com] .

Re:Hot chicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17852788)

Possibly, however, you'd want to attract the sort of people who don't attend job fairs merely to ogle "booth babes"(of either gender).

You know, the sort of people who attend job fairs to look for interesting information on jobs.

Make your booth informative and aesthetically appealing. You might want to attract people by handing out something(possibly food of some kind), but don't go overboard - concentrate on offering information to people who want it rather than sweets to people who want those.

You certainly shouldn't attract random people by means that are distracting and patronizing to the people who are actually interested in your booth. "Booth babes" or anything similar to it would probably scare away more serious candidates from your booth than it would attract.

Re:Hot chicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17853670)

Possibly, however, you'd want to attract the sort of people who don't attend job fairs merely to ogle "booth babes"(of either gender).
Sure, you want the confident, self-empowered ones who'll actually come up and talk to them.

Re:Hot chicks (1)

Ace905 (163071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853800)

Yeah seriously though, I can say the same thing about food. " You certainly shouldn't attract random people by means that are distracting and patronizing to the people that are actually interested in your booth "

You know the point here is sales ; you want *everybody* to come to your booth. Not the 'good ones'. You want to decide who the good ones are from *everyone*. If you were turned off of a company booth because attractive men and women were standing their giving out information I wouldn't want you working for me either - because that's just weird.

"booth babes" makes it sound like I'm talking about bimbo's. I'm talking about qualified reps that are sexually attractive. See marketing.

Nifty thing I saw at my last job fair. (1)

silvertear72 (899704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851806)

I'm in a similar position where the startup I'm working for is also looking to expand. In the last job fair I went to, the booth right across from the company I work for brought a little mini-oven along with them. With the mini-oven, they proceeded to bake cookies which could be smelled throughout the job fair tent. It was a pretty creative way of trying to attract potential recruits, however, they did have direct competition with a healthy lifestyle company offering health drinks/food right next to them.

Re:Nifty thing I saw at my last job fair. (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852068)

Obviously, they should've baked pizzas instead. Given a choice between health food and pizza, pizza wins 90% of the time.

Jobs? (5, Insightful)

TERdON (862570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851830)

If you are that clear about who and what you want, make a very obvious sign "This is what we're recruiting right now". List specific positions with job descriptions and all, and put a box beneath it with forms "Contact me about ___ position". And include internships, thesis opportunities as well.

Sadly, many of the companies that go to the job fairs I've been to don't really have a very specific goal of being there, it's more like a public relations thingie. It's almost like using a job fair as an opportunity of recruiting seems like a novel idea...

Worst example I have is Ericsson, who for several years went to the job fair at Chalmers [chalmers.se] , claiming they had no job openings, no possibilities of thesis writing at the company, and no summer internships.

Re:Jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17852938)

They only tell that to white people.

Re:Jobs? (2, Insightful)

spinfire (148920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853112)

Alcatel showed up at one of our college (University of New Hampshire) Job Fairs and they had a huge sign that said they were looking for interns. The conversation went something like this:

spinfire: Hi, I'm a student looking for an internship.
Big Black Dude from Alcatel: Ah, well, you see, we don't actually have any internships.
spinfire: ...
BBDfA: We're only looking for people for full time positions available in Dallas, Texas right now.

Seriously? Then wtf do you have "Internships" as one of the things you have available? The happy ending: I did find a job at the job fair. And I didn't have to relocate to Dallas. Advice for companies that are hiring: Be honest about what you do, and what you are looking for. You don't want your prospective employees thinking you're a bunch of liars.

Re:Jobs? (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853350)

spinfire leaves....

Hot chick walks up to Alcatel

HC: Hi, I'm looking for a internship or whatever.

BBDfA: Right this way...

Seriously though, sounds like you got caught up in a bait and switch situation. I've known people looking for work approaching a counter about help wanted only to be told by the clerk couldn't find the application or other excuse to discourage them from pursuing further. Especially if they weren't particularly good looking --or young.

Re:Jobs? (1)

spinfire (148920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853378)

I would agree with that, except they apparently told that to everyone looking for internships. They had a list of job openings on a sheet on their table, and there really weren't any internships. Which is especially shady because they told the University Career Center people they were looking for interns so they were listed as such in the directory. I think it was a bait and switch - but a bait and switch on basically everyone looking for internships.

Re:Jobs? (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853550)

Seems like a dumb way for a company to waste its time by misrepresenting what they wanted. People looking for a permanent job after graduation could have been passing them up.

Glad things worked out for you at any rate.

TITS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17851886)

A nice set of tits always gets my attention.

Re:TITS! (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858034)

This is the correct answer. Tits will certainly get you more attention.

Having just been to a university job fair today. (2, Informative)

mongoose(!no) (719125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851894)

Go hire some professionals to design a sign / stand for you. If you're too cheap to do that, here is what I liked. A good clear sign that says what your company is. Don't make it hard to read. Leave the small stuff / hard to remember stuff for brochures. I want to be able to easily identify your stand, who you are, and what kind of business you are. I was looking for civil engineering firms, so my first reaction was go to looking for the big yellow signs stands that said "XYZ's Construction Firm" or had pictures of bulldozers and the like. As far as freebies go, they are cool and all, but it doesn't make a huge impact on which stands I go to or who I follow up with, they're just cumbersome. Oh and have contact information, like business cards for yourself or for the HR department that have an email address, phone number, or a current URL. I don't want to go looking through your website just to find the careers page which hasn't been updated in 2 years.

Demos (2, Interesting)

OSUEE (1058734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851940)

I'm a senior EE and found my job last semester at a career fair. When I went I looked out for keywords on each company's poster. Try to get the key info about your company visible to passer-bys. When I was looking I looked for vehicle companies (e.g. Cessna, GM, Caterpillar) and electronics companies. If I saw a booth that revolved around vehicles or electronics I'd atleast stop by to chat.

Re:Demos (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852084)

Also, when asking a question about recruiting on Slashdot, do the same. After all, your message is going to be read by thousands of geeks. There's a pretty good chance that one of them will have the kind of skills you're looking for...

Student Wishlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17852160)

I've just recently completed my senior year of University, so I'll be sharing my experience from the other side of this problem. Students are generally given a list of companies and their respective booth numbers. That by itself is very little information to go on when searching for anything. Combat this!

Have a meaningful company website that students can look at before the event. This way a student can look you up and find your interesting company at the job fair. In general I never looked at booth advertisements, so I was able to bee-line to the companies I wanted to see.

Another thing to consider is the type of fair. Is this a smaller event with 30 companies who all focus on the technology disciplines? Or is this something larger with 300 companies, who are looking for anything from English majors to Zoology students?
Bring enough people so the queue for your booth moves rapidly, and consider announcing what majors you are looking for on your display.

Have a pamphlet or 1 page sheet describing the company/position, and attach your business card. Anything more is cumbersome to carry (Frisbee discs, T-Shirts, hats, etc.), so if you must include something of that sort, provide a bag to carry it in.

Be prepared to interview soon after the event, otherwise someone else may beat you to the talent. Also talk with the school's student career office, you may be able to interview other students who were unable to attend the fair.

Here's what to do (4, Informative)

Dawang (611122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852176)

I work at a university career center, so here's my US$0.02:

  • Call the career center and talk to the person running the career fair. They'll be the best resource for you and just as badly as you want to find a good student, they want their students to get hired by you.
  • BE NICE. Seriously. To everyone. Arrogance and/or plain rudeness doesn't get you anywhere. Don't expect to be treated like royalty just because you're "with the #3 bla bla bla". If you get on people's good side, good things happen.
  • Get a good, clear display. I've seen all sorts of displays at our fairs. The photo board that's a mish-mash and the 10 stacks of plain-paper flyers. Focus in on a few nicely done brochures/handouts, and a big clear display. The less garbage the students have to filter through, the easier it will be to find the talented ones.
  • Know what kind of candidates you're looking for and make your materials address that.
  • STAND IN FRONT OF YOUR TABLE. That way you look actively engaged in talking with students, not passively sitting back and waiting for them to come to you.
  • Do NOT stand in front of other companies' tables. Again, be nice. If you get a lot of students coming to see you, ask the fair organizer for some help. If you were nice to the organizer from the get-go, they'll come help you out in turn.
  • Hold events on the campus prior to the fair. Take out ads in the school newspaper. Give talks to student groups. Get known.
  • Offer internships. PAY YOUR INTERNS. You might not know this, but Federal law says either the employer has to pay the intern or the intern has to take a class. That means if you're not paying them, not only are you getting free labor, but the student has to pay to take a class, so in effect, they have to pay you to work for you. That's not Nice.

That's not an all-inclusive list, and it's certainly not universal (all depends on the school's approach to running the fair). Some of it is probably obvious, but I hope it helps.

Re:Here's what to do (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854052)

Career centers are really under-used by companies.

The bit about having other events on campus is key. If you can stand talking (as in actual conversation) to a small group of students for even 10 minutes, it makes a huge difference. I send undergrads coming through my lab to contacts I've made that way looking at potential industry postdoc positions.

Don't go out to lunch with your buddies in your booth. Arrange to go out to lunch with some students or a professor working in an area you're recruiting in, even if it means skipping the school's free lunch.

Re:Here's what to do (1)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858648)

I also work at a campus career center (although soley in a tech capacity) and second most of this.

With respect to the display, I would suggest making it very clear which majors and position types you are looking for. Since you are small, you will not have a lot of name recognition. A lot of students will miss you when they are planning which companies to talk to at the fair. And in reality, a lot of students don't plan much of anything before the fair. In addition, if you are small, you are probably local, and depending on the market in the region, this can be a big plus for many students. Also, students love free junk and are mysteriously attracted to it.

Information sessions can be important as well, but if you offer one, you may have trouble filling it up depending on interest level. The campus career services center can give you an idea of how many people would show up if you offer one.

Posting your positions with the campus career services office and signing up to do interviews through career services are also both great ways to reach your target audience and (at least at my university) it is much cheaper than a career fair booth.

Also, be sure you have at least a few people. If you've never worked a career fair, it usually sucks especially if you are busy all day. Be sure you all agree on a strategy for things like tracking good candidates (different resume piles) and signing up people for interviews.

From Experience... (5, Informative)

EagleFalconn (1058758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852420)

As someone who is working on a second internship with another very large, successful company, I can tell you exactly what attracts my eye and what'll probably get the attention of other really bright kids too. If you want to get high performing people, you need a couple things:
1) Free stuff. I know its stupid, but free stuff really will get you some attention. But DON'T go overboard. Example: Abbott Labs at Purdue University's Industrial Roundtable (the largest job fair on campus all year) had a massive booth, probably about 20 feet wide. And every person in line for an interview got this little back of free shit that I didn't really want. I just wanted a job. The only thing I still have from that bag is a magnetic chip clip that I use for my tortilla chips. For the record, I'm not working for Abbott this summer. Oh, they did give me some bandaids though.
An example of doing it right: Los Alamos National Labs. Los Alamos gave away two things at the Industrial Roundtable. They gave away little folders with contact information of the right people, business cards, and brochures. They also had a list of deadlines. As a nice little freebee, I got a bobblehead pen with an alien on it. I don't know where it is anymore, but I remember it. I'm not working for Los Alamos this summer because they weren't looking for anyone in my field, but I was really excited to work for them.
2) A professional looking booth. You could probably get away with a couple of mounted posters made down at the copy shop, but you want to attract good people. It'll be pricey, I'll bet, but find professional booth designers. About half the companies I talked to at the Industrial Roundtable were just random companies I saw and said "Hey, that booth looks interesting." Dow Chemical was one of those (Not working for them, their representative was rude as hell. It seems like a small thing to judge a whole company on, but he was so rude he wouldn't even take my resume or tell me how to apply).
3) Make sure whoever is representing your company behaves professionally. This means a couple things. Don't be a jerk. It'll be tough depending on the venue (the IR this year was inside the Purdue Armory, which was insanely hot. The event was rained indoors), but this person is the face of your company. You don't want to risk turning away that one random engineer that might come up with the idea that turns your company into a multi-national. It seems like long odds, but like I said, if you're really looking to hire the best...
4) ...and along those notes, you're a small company. Your pay probably won't be the same that, say, Boeing might offer (not working for Boeing, they didn't tell anyone they were going to be on campus and limited their information session to the first 20 people to show up. Don't do those either) so you need to make sure this person can make your company sound exciting, innovative and unique because thats pretty much all you've got to offer.
5) Make sure your people know to take resumes. It doesn't matter if they just build a pile in the back of the booth and look at 3 of them. Just take the damn things, you never know what you might see and like. Also make sure they are prepared to give on-the-spot interviews. Thats half the reason to go to a jobfair. It lets people know you're taking their interest in you seriously, and that you like what they have to offer you. If you say you'll get in touch with someone, actually do it. And please, please, don't after an instant-interview say "Allright, now that you've just regurgitated all your qualifications to me, please apply on our website at www.IJustLostInterestInThisCompany.com." Go to the website is recruiter for, "Leave me alone, you're not interesting." If the laws require you to make sure they submit an official application, ask them to do so after they have interviewed or something.
6) No booth babes. Don't be stupid. Unless you're working for Hooters, having 'booth babes' just means no one will take you seriously.
7) One of the best ways to attract attention is to have a massive line infront of your booth. Rolls Royce had a line that was probably over 300 people long. Granted, thats hard to do without name recognition. But on the same note, don't make an artificially long line. That just results in frustration.

Re:From Experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17853738)

Dude, I can't wait until you have been working at a big company for 10 years or so. All of those stupid things they did to sign you up won't matter at all by then.

I think you want to look for a smaller company where you can play as many roles as possible before locking yourself in at a big company for the long haul. Then you can toil away at the same tiny section of the huge project that you are not quite sure exactly what it does, but the specs say to program this widget so you are going to program that widget....

And yes, I guess I am biased towards small businesses after seeing quite a few large companies lay-off entire divisions. It doesn't matter how good you are, some executive in another part of the company is looking at a spreadsheet and needs to cut the costs....

But you did get a cool bobble-head out of the deal.

Re:From Experience... (1)

EagleFalconn (1058758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854570)

As it turns out, the company I am working for this summer wasn't even there. And I'm probably not going to wind up working for a company anyway, I want to work in academia. Industry internships just pay for the necessities, like eating. I do academic research during the year so I can actually get published.

Re:From Experience... (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853976)

For me:

1) Free stuff that I can't use doesn't attract me anymore. I like pens, playing cards, notebooks...

2) I usually try to look at a list before I go into the arena. So put pithy info in any abstracts you can.

3) I like to get the information I need to know about your company efficiently. For example, the information that should be easy to obtain would include 1) what your company does 2) what positions are available 3) who you're looking for 4) contact info.

4) Most handouts available at many booths are just full of "motivational speaking", and I'm not interested in that. If you've clearly stated what you do, then I'll know whether I'm motivated or not.

5) Personally, I don't really care how much you spend on your brochures if you do not include the information I need. You're not going to "trick" me into working for your company anyway.

Re:From Experience... (1)

SeaSolder (979866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855966)

I partially disagree with you on topic 6... Seriously.
If there is an attractive woman doing the interviews, more guys will visit. I'm not being sexist, just realistic.
Also, yah, give something away. Not a stupid little pen, or other random bit of junk left over from a trade-show, but something people are actually going to want. Bring a couple cases of bottled water, or soda to give to people you are interviewing. It'll put them at ease, as well as attract more people.
If you are a smaller company, make sure you have some way of making the applicant want to work for less money than one of the big companies could pay. Have a flier that details the reasons. Like the company softball team, free beer Fridays, etc.

Make sure you have some "Plants" to bring along. These are the people who will switch off standing at your booth, making it look like someone is paying attention to you. Just make sure that they know to wander off when an applicant shows up to your booth.

Re:From Experience... (1)

mttlg (174815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17864472)

1) Free stuff. I know its stupid, but free stuff really will get you some attention. But DON'T go overboard.

It's not stupid, it is absolutely essential. Who wants to be stuck with a reputation for having crappy freebies? I happen to have a bit of experience in this area:

1997 Free Stuff Awards [mttlg.net]
1998 Free Stuff Awards [mttlg.net]
1999 Free Stuff Awards [mttlg.net]
2000 Free Stuff Awards [mttlg.net]

Many college students at these fairs aren't looking for jobs, they are just getting a feel for the job opportunities when they graduate. In many cases, they may not even have a clue about what to look for in an employer. The free stuff gives them an excuse to talk to company reps they might have otherwise ignored. Never underestimate the power of free stuff. It also doesn't hurt to share some of your goodies with other company reps, particularly those in less popular fields. Think about it, if you see a guy at a booth playing with a roomerang, wouldn't you try to find the company giving them out?

Free Food (1)

Cristofori42 (1001206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852542)

I went to a job fair a few months ago and I think the booth with free food had the largest congregation for the majority of the fair. Darn moochers.

display/swag/smart staff (1)

zumbojo (615389) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852564)

*A gargantuan, professional display
*SWAG, specifically tailored to your target hiring audience. One tech company who interviewed me was giving away company-logo-branded iPod socks and USB hubs.
*Knowledgeable staff. HR people are fine if you want to hire communication/business majors for HR work. If you're hiring for IT you need IT people who can discuss the finer points of network administration with the CS/EE majors you're trying to court.

I start my internship in May.

happy workers (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852578)

Make sure the people who work on your booth are and look happy.

When I went to career fairs... (1)

Mieckowski (741243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853276)

I was looking for an internship doing application development. I really wish companies put positions right on their sign. I tried to talk to the companies that looked like they might have that sort of position, but I could have easily missed one. I don't care about trinkets/pretty signs/strippers when I am at a career fair but it looks like that is unusual. If you have to give something away you could try saving some for the end of the career fair when everyone else has run out of stuff.

Send some technical people, not just marketing/HR (1)

spinfire (148920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853284)

My first advice as stated above is to be honest [slashdot.org] .

My second piece of advice is to send some of your technical people. This is especially true in smaller startups where it is more practical. The people looking for technical jobs are going to be much more drawn in if they can see what you actually do, instead of marketing speak. And HR department people often have no clue what they are actually hiring for, apart from some buzzwords (and usually nobody knows what those mean).

I found my current employer at a University Job Fair. I'm nominally an intern, although that reflects more on my seasonal/part time status and my wage versus what I actually do at the company. They had a large display, with the founder of the company and several of their software developers. They had some devices they were demonstrating (we write software to test said devices). Everybody looked happy, enthusiastic, and had technical knowledge about the company and what it did. They handed out cards inviting people to an open house where they gave free pizza and discussed what the company was all about. It worked well. They had a large pool of potential applicants at the open house and everybody got a chance to talk to the current employees and managers before interviewing.

For me, a job is more than just a paycheck. Sure, money is important and it makes the world go around. But if your employees are happy, have fun at their job, do exciting work, etc, you should exploit that to find more employees. Because otherwise you're going to hire somebody who cares more about the paycheck than the work they do. And if your employees aren't happy.. Well, fix that before you head to the job fair.

Someone smart at the booth (1)

kabdib (81955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853424)

When I was going to job fairs, I was looking for (surprise!) a *job*. One that was interesting, at a company that had its priorities straight.

A gewgaw or crappy pen with your company's logo on it won't help. A poster with a clear statement of the kind of people you're looking for AND someone intelligent at the booth that I can talk technical to is all that I really need. A competent poster says volumes about how your company is organized, a technical lead who asks good questions (and has good answers) is even better.

Once you have my interest, sure, hand me a flashy-buzzy thingy for my cat to tear apart. But it's really not necessary if you have your act together.

Thoughts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17853516)

1) No HR. You want nerds, send your more sociable nerds. You want your nerds to be passionate about the company and clearly understand *why* other folks want them to work there.
2) Make sure people can see clearly:
  * Where you are hiring
  * What positions you are hiring for
  * A vauge idea of what you do without needing to ask (e.g. "Graphics, C++" or "Java, Finance")
3) The last company I worked for where we talked about how we needed to do something to make ourselves "cooler" and griped about the booth had the following problems:
  * Underpaying people $15,000.
  * Squandering the things that would have made up for the $15,000, causing most of the senior folk to leave.
  * Didn't address #2 in any substantial way because the budget involved in changing it was high (but the budget squandered by the failure to address #2 was not a big deal)
  * Gave me nightmares and caused psychological trauma that still hasn't gone away.
4) If you try too hard, you scare folks away.... and most notably good folks away. You'll attract lesser folks and people who just want your toy.

Not just for "fresh-outs" (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854022)

And please don't overlook those over college age. I think recruiters assume an older worker is overqualified, priced out of their range and not as enthusiastic when it comes to learning new things. These, however, are myths. Many workers these days come to a point where they change careers. And some would love to be part of a start-up and would bring experience and stability.

Re:Not just for "fresh-outs" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17914000)

If you are referring to recruiting in general, I agree with you, recruiters should certainly consider "experienced" workers and not just focus on new grads. And, if you're an older worker who's gone back to school for a new career, your age shouldn't be a negative. However in the context of university career fairs, if you're not a student at or grad of a particular school, you don't belong at their career fair. The companies are there with a certain expectation of who they'll be talking to, and it doesn't include students from other schools or people who've been out of school for ten years. I can't hire you through the Campus Recruiting process if you're not from the school, so you're wasting both your and my time.

Sorry for the rant, this is a pet peeve of mine.

your tech (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854468)

showcase your *tech* somehow. You are trying to attract the smart guys, not the ones distracted by "oooh shiny!". I worked tradeshows for a long long time, the sellers/exhibitors (mostly) treat the buyers like carnies treat the marks, and you don't want any of those short attention span folks. I've seen them all, from giant whizzbang booths and full stage productions on giant rotating stages, to little plain vanilla simple backwall booths like one I saw with (who I think was now in retrospect) Dean Kamen and an *amazing* wheelchair. Once on a car show I was working on, the single vehicle that got the most attention had nothing but a rug the car was sitting on and one of those little velvet rope barricades a few feet away and a little sign on an easel. A lamborghini jeep/suv looking thing (a long time ago before there were many different kinds of SUVs). It had more guys standing around gawking than any of the other-some quite elaborate-displays and vehicles, including concept vehicles. Because the gearhead tech and the fit and finish (including hard point pintles if you were some rich guy over in whoknow's-wheristan and needed to mount weapons on it) was *slick* for the time.(found it, it was the v-12 model [wikipedia.org] ) I mean damn impressive compared to the competition back then for that, which consisted of like a suburban or a jeep station wagon or a land rover. Of course the price was much higher than any of the others of that kind, but shazzam it was cool. The tech was cool. that's what stood out, the all around just "better" aspects of their tech compared to the available competition.

    Ya, booth babes and schmooze/schwag are nice..but you are trying to attract the cream on a budget so the only way you are going to stand out from the blinkenlights crowd is to show what you got so far, and the interested guys will notice it, so set it up so it is comfy for them to sit down and play with what you have and then you can talk to them comfortably, to see if they can help you with where you want to go. And they will obviously want to see how you can help *them*, so don't be cheap, but don't promise what you can't deliver, either.

  You probably or maybe (depends on the local school and job situations and lotsa variables there of course) won't get a ton of interest, but what interest you do get will be very narrowly focused and tuned to what you are apparently looking for.

Better Option (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854924)

Forget the career fair. You will be just one of dozens of companies that are there. If you want to get the best students, talk to the academic advisors and professors for the department that you are looking to hire from. This has a lot of advantages:

  • This builds ties with the department that will last a long time. You won't have to "start from scratch" each career fair.
  • They have a good idea who the best students are, and not just GPA-wise.
  • They can direct interested students to you at any time, so no waiting for the next career fair to find people.
  • They can send email to their department's student list letting them know you are there and interested in hiring.
  • They can help set up meetings/presentations/tours so your company is the only focus of the trip. They may even invite you to present something in one of their classes.

Those are just off the top of my head and there are probably a lot more.

Anyway, I don't think what you do or have at the career fair is as important as what you do outside of it. Don't rely on fancy signs or gimmicks - get some people that are involved in the school to work with you. You need employees, and they want their graduates to have good jobs so work together to make it happen.

Ten things you need to do (2, Informative)

daverk (38859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855092)

1. Show up late, leave early or leave your booth unmanned for long periods of time.
2. Don't bring any literature describing the company or its products.
3. Don't bring applications.
4. Tell everyone that they have to go to your website to see the openings and apply and submit resumes.
5. Make sure the people who are manning your booth don't have any influence on the hiring process.
6. Send stand ins (or new hires) and tell everyone the hiring managers are at another location where the applicants are more qualified.
7. Only have openings that everyone attending is overqualified(Janitor) or underqualified(CFO, Senior Mgr) for.
8. Only have openings in locations across the country but there will be no relocation assistance.
9. Tell people that you are really interested in hiring them, take their resume, fill out application, and never contact them again.
10. Have a hiring freeze in place.

Students perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17855168)

As a student I've attended job fairs which are generally quite dull (we're strongly advised to go to them by our faculties though).

Most companies hand out pens or pencils. Students grab these because we get through a LOT of pens during our courses. The better they look/write the happier the student will be, a lot of pens are el-cheapo crap. Pencils should be avoided unless you can make them interesting, one company was giving out pencils made from recycled styrofoam cups which was unusual enough for me to remember their name.

However, the only company I was interested in is one who were giving out business card sized cds with a powerpoint presentation about their company on it. The card was cool, easy to carry and I actually checked out the information on it, something I didn't do with the regular cds.

DO give out cool or practical freebies, it doesn't need to be expensive, just half-decent quality.

DON'T hand out things like yo-yos emblazoned with your logo because it's a useless gimmick and students know it.

DO be friendly and ask passing students if they want the freebies you're handing out rather than waiting for them to pick them up (they'll grab and run). It's a good way to start a conversation.

DON'T jump straight into job interview type of questions, it's intimidating and the students may not have the answers ready. Furthermore it's what every other booth will do. Try to be a little original and ask simple things to make them feel at ease before you hit them with the harder stuff.

Lastly, if it's an option you should let any potential employees know they can come and see the office, maybe do a day's work experience or something, if they would like to. With so many companies to choose from any little thing like that helps. Job booths are all very well but they don't actually tell you much about what it would be like to work for the company because so much of it's just fluff.

Get permission to use... (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855468)

The logo of a high profile tech site on your sign. What kind of geek wouldn't walk up and enquire about a job at a booth with a slashdot logo and "As seen on slashdot" in the corner?

Easy! Don't hire kids right out of school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17855496)

Don't hire college graduates right away. The trick is to let life have its way with them. Let them work three fast-food jobs at a time to pay rent. Let them have to walk 15 blocks to do their laundry. Let them have to start skipping meals since they can't afford them.

Then, after a couple of years, track them down and offer them the job at 1/4 the amount you were originally going to pay them. They'll be so happy that they won't notice that they're making 75% less than everyone around them, and they'll be so used to working 100 hours per week that they'll have no lives! That means you can force them to work 60 hours per week and it will seem like you're doing them a favor.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17855540)

booth babes

Jobs (1)

Belgand (14099) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855812)

Actually have jobs that you want to hire people for. Giving away other free things or trying to put on some silly show isn't the point. People go to job fairs because they want a job. Take resumes and try to call people back the next day for interviews if at all possible.

Trust me. Right now I'm almost two years out of college with degrees in biology and microbiology and two years of undergraduate research and I'm still looking for a job. The only thing I want from a company is a paying position there.

Use job boards - it will be cheaper or even free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17856642)

You may also want to use job boards online, some of which are free such as ours http://www.jobsearch.ro/ [jobsearch.ro] It is in Romania and it will most probably bring you Romanians, something that is good enough for Google and MS.

Logo, Freebies and Chat!! (1)

sciop101 (583286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17857566)

Company Logo Everywhere!

Banner with Company Name & Logo.

Pens, Business Cards, & CDs are great for everybody that stops and drops a resume.

People talking about the company and not with each other can give the freebies and collect the resumes.

A conference room can be reserved for on-site casual interviews. Interviewers can give a 5-10 minute casual interview. Put a name plaque on the door NOT a taped sign.

Atari 2600 console. (1)

neo (4625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858610)

Pong - winner stays, loser has to give you his resume.

Gaming Attraction (1)

Enkrypter (252673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860330)

setup a booth with some nice TVs and game consoles. While most college students will be drawn in by lights, sounds, and the prospects of playing video games for a careeer. You should jump at the first nerd you see who shows up with a screw driver trying to mod your 360 or wii on display.

A good candidate will ask quesitons and be interested in you and what your company has to offer, the rest will just play games. You can also rest assured that no one else will have a wii and a 47" plasma to play on. :)

Just an idea!

You could always throw up a "free beer" sign...

How to get my attention (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17860738)

State how many days of vacation you give, and make it generous.

State how many hours you expect people to work, and make it reasonable.

Those would be the two biggest reasons I'd avoid considering a startup.

Beyond that, have some examples of what you do. Have people there with technical skills so I can talk to them about how the work is done.

Re:How to get my attention (1)

lexiconbt (53463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17890520)

Work/Life balance and start-up rarely mix -- that's what big companies are for. A start-up needs to attract people that want to work alot now and retire early, not a long boring career. That is not for everyone - surely not metamatic.

Be honest with the people you are interviewing about what work is like and what you expect out of people. That should be the best way to find the right fit.

Talk to people (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868954)

When I was in college, I didn't care about free goodies. All that mattered was that someone would talk to me. The most successful companies would engage me in conversation if I spent any time looking at their display.

Look at resumes when people hand them to you. You don't have to read them, but be prepared to offer interviews "on the spot." It's always nice when the guy who you hand your resume to you ends up being a lifelong mentor after two internships.

Your company should also be "established." This means that you need some kind of banner or display with your trademarks and brands. It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive; it needs to convey a message that you've been around long enough to have a clear plan in establishing your startup.

Basics, gimmicks aside (1)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869528)

1. Try to greet people, even if they're just walking by. Send at least one friendly and approachable person.

2. As someone else said, take the resumes. Worst case, just shred them when you get back, but take them and thank the student.

3. "Go to our website and apply" is synonymous with "Go away now, you've taken up enough of our time." (Even when that's not what was intended.) Give people a "personal" email address/business card instead. (Even if it's a temporary one you create just for this purpose.) This should actually filter out some of the less serious candidates, and then you can reply and say, "Go to company.com/hr and fill out the application so we can get you into the system."

4. Send both an HR/manager type and a programmer/engineer/scientist/accountant (whatever you're trying to recruit) so that you can answer both "How do I get hired" and "What would I be doing" questions in a sensible way.

5. Obviously, it helps to send someone who attended the school that's hosting the fair.

Interns (1)

vorlich (972710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946516)

One of the most cost effective ways of recruiting if you are a start up or a small business is to have students on a work experience program. For millions of European students this is an essential part of their university course and you have access to some very enthuisastic and intelligent people. Sure you have to hold their hand a little bit but they aren't on the payroll. If you tell them, they will come. The can work from three weeks to six months, and all you have to worry about is accommodation and some living allowance.
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