By: Mona Berberich
Digital Marketing Manager, Better Weekdays
Recently I attended just about the coolest career fair of the universe: Uncubed. This event had everything you can imagine for a cool Friday night (or a Wednesday afternoon as it was): Urban beats, chilled drinks, fancy food and cool people. The way people speak about Uncubed (or even when you’re actually there), you wouldn’t think that it’s a career fair. But it is. The main purpose is to attract top talent and get as many resumes from the cool (smart) kids as you can. I took time to get some thoughts together to share with you the startup’s guide for getting the most from attending a career fair, even if it is the classic university fair that is characterized by a gymnasium full of suit jackets.
The status quo: Your company is young, you don’t know exactly when you hire (or if you hire at all), what kind of skill set you need and how long you can pay a person. Things move fast around a startup and you never know when you jump the next hurdle or bite the grass.
The goal: It all comes down to employer branding and shifting the focus to the candidate. This is your time to show of your company and your culture to attract young entrepreneurs (all those Happiness Heroes and Kick-ass Hackers) to take on the next challenge with you.
Here’s the master plan…
Show off your culture.
Make sure to bring your entire team. You and your people are the best way to represent what you stand for. In a startup, you want to get along with the people you work, career fairs are a good way to test it out.
Test your value proposition.
This is your chance to be close to your (potential) customer. Test out different narratives and find out which one works best. Since you’re actually talking with real people, you’ll notice their facial expressions and reactions towards it. This is a golden source to nail down your value proposition!
Spend the most time with people that could be actually working for you and be graceful to the others.
Don’t waste your time with people who aren’t a good fit (for whatever reason). But keep in mind that this is a major branding event. You want those college kids to go back and talk about how cool your company/product was, regardless if they will work with you or not.
Clear expectations are key.
It’s important to clearly tell potential applicants where you’re at in the hiring process (or if you’re hiring at all). Time and process should always be transparent. You want to be empathetic to people, because you might not hire them now but your paths could always cross in the future. We always like to tell people what they will face down the road. You should test their motivations and passion for your company by showcasing what you’ve got. Let people experience your product (for free) and get their perspective on designs, UI/UX, marketing or future product development ideas. If they really care, they will help you out.
Network, network and network some more.
You’re paying to be at this event (btw you should always try to speak to career services/event organizers to lower or forgo your fee because you’re a startup) so make the most out of it. Take some time and walk around to meet other companies. Pitch your idea, get to know potential customers/partners and supporters. This is almost greater than meeting all those kids at the career fair. You’re in the room with hundreds of companies, so take advantage of it!
What have you done to maximize your time at career fairs? Share it in the comments!
Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, the “GPS for Your Career Path”. The Chicago-based company has developed a private platform that allows millennials to actively manage their careers. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, recruiting and everything around the career lifecycle. Contact information: Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Photo Credit: TechZulu.com