Career Fair Charisma
By Audrey Field, PR & Marketing Advisor
While this article focuses on strategies for a powerful presence and resume assessments at Career Fairs, many of these recommendations are worthwhile in any situation where you are manning a booth to promote your product or service.
Career fairs are a purely marketing initiative. We all need to market our businesses occasionally. Take the day off and enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the mound of work on your desk. Enjoy hanging out in a new place with new people.
As with any valuable marketing package, you need to think ahead about your process in order to identify what to create, what to do, and to know what to bring with you.
Plan ahead to:
- Carefully define your target market. There is nothing more disillusioning than going to a Career Fair anticipating graduates in a number of distinct fields and discovering a plethora of lost souls with pierced body parts and hand-scrawled resume outlines.
- Get to know the big boss of the fair. Offer your (free) help to the fair. If you enjoy public speaking, be sure to mention your availability to address the audience on a relevant topic. At the very least, your offer will put you in a most favourable light. When the big day arrives, something as simple as directing attendees to the proper location may save the convention bosses a few dollars. In such a scenario, try to position yourself to be the last point of contact before the participants go in.
- Give out your business card to EVERYONE. Come prepared with $50 -$100 worth of business cards. After you critique their documents, your business card is going to be burning a hole in their pocket because they will realize they are circulating a less than stellar resume.
- Present an enthusiastic, interested presence. Don’t sit back waiting for people to come to you and don’t sit down. Circulate at the side or in front of your booth most of the time. Work with your partner at the booth to tell visitors to call you! Say positive things like “WE can do this”. Most folks want a partner because they’re unsure how to proceed. When no one is around, step out in front. Say “Hello” and “Could I offer you a free resume critique?” Make it sound like you are giving out $100 bills.
- Use multiple, simultaneous methodologies to stimulate business. While you are circulating and proactively approaching participants, have other media working away. Create a PowerPoint presentation that runs in a loop behind you. Have samples and your degrees, credentials, and awards on prominent display. Ensure you verify with the organizers of the event well in advance whether you will have the electronic connections needed for your media presentations. Then, while that passive approach is generating leads, it will free you up to take an aggressive approach by making direct contact with individuals. Half of them should call you if you use your brief interactions effectively.
- Provide take-aways. Offer copies of free career newsletters, magazines, or even copies of career articles you have written. If you happen to have pens with your company name and contact information, you needn’t display them as ‘free for the taking’. Rather, when someone shows considerable interest, you can say “Please, take the pen with you.”
- Have a sign-up sheet or notes for personal information. On prominent display, ask for names, phone numbers and email addresses. You will want to point interested persons in that direction. By offering some draw prizes as incentives, patrons see there is something immediate in it for them, too.
- Ensure there are 2 people at the booth. While you are circulating or being pulled aside, you want to have another person available to let people know they have been noticed and to provide help. Additionally, when you offer freebies or have samples laid out, it is very tempting to some more devious types who think nothing of helping themselves to whatever is available. An extra pair of eyes helps to prevent pilfering
- Dress appropriately. Just like interviewing, try to dress one level up from the target market. This almost always will include professional dress. Once again, image is the key. You can’t appear “too” professional for the consummate professional, and the lower-end professionals would prefer someone of your calibre as opposed to the Nike guy. And wear a name tag with your company name and logo on it.
- Identify your booth. As people walk by the booths, they need to see signs and elaborate displays. They see employers at other booths that have spent a lot of money on attracting their target market. Then they come to your booth; one person sitting alone at a desk looking at resumes. Not very appealing, eh? You need to have a banner behind you, stating clearly what we are doing. Free is good. For example: ”Free Resume Evaluation – make sure you have every competitive advantage”.
- Don’t forget to pump your presence beforehand via your website and your voicemail message. Tell all prospective clients within a couple of weeks of the event that they are welcome to come and see you in person. They like this.