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Making Your Company More Visible at a Job Fair? 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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Making Your Company More Visible at a Job Fair?

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  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:47PM (#17851592)

    What would you want to see at a job fair to grab your attention?
    Strippers and kegs!
  • Booth Babes!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      And have them collect e-mail addresses of potential candidates on their boobs.
    • Booth babes!

      Strangely enough you were modded redundant and the only other topic discussed so far was strippers and whores.... Oh wait.
      • 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....
    • 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 (Score:5, Funny)

    by ObligatoryUserName ( 126027 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:50PM (#17851618) Journal
    A simple LED display of a cartoon character.
  • Buya real booth (Score:3, Informative)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:51PM (#17851648) Homepage
    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.

    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:46PM (#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).
    • 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
      • by tont0r ( 868535 )
        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 programm
      • by asc99c ( 938635 )
        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 sort
  • 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.
    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      . . .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.

  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Now that I got your attention...

    And if that fails, take some hostages. Bound to get you some coverage.
  • by anlprb ( 130123 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:54PM (#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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @06:55PM (#17851690) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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?

      • 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. (Score:1, Insightful)

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

    We're hiring!
    • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:02PM (#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)
    • 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 usi

  • 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 []
  • 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
    • Obviously, they should've baked pizzas instead. Given a choice between health food and pizza, pizza wins 90% of the time.
  • Jobs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TERdON ( 862570 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:06PM (#17851830) Homepage
    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 [], claiming they had no job openings, no possibilities of thesis writing at the company, and no summer internships.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spinfire ( 148920 )
      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
      • 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.
        • 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.
          • 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.
  • 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 p
  • Demos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OSUEE ( 1058734 )
    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.
    • 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...
  • Here's what to do (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dawang ( 611122 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:31PM (#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.

    • 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,
    • 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
  • From Experience... (Score:5, Informative)

    by EagleFalconn ( 1058758 ) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:52PM (#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" 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.
    • 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 j
    • 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
    • by mttlg ( 174815 )

      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 []
      1998 Free Stuff Awards []
      1999 Free Stuff Awards []
      2000 Free Stuff Awards []

      Many college students at these fairs aren't looking for jobs, they are just getting a feel for the job opportunities when they gradu

  • *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.
  • Make sure the people who work on your booth are and look happy.
  • 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.
  • My first advice as stated above is to be honest [].

    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 U
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 an
  • Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man!

    They even pass the savings onto you!

    http://www.wackywavinginflatablearmflailingtubeman .com/ []

  • 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
  • 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 qualif
  • 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?
  • by Belgand ( 14099 )
    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.
  • 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.

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

  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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." Thi

  • 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
  • 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 som

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!