Recruiting: It's More than Just Showing Up

In the current economic state that our country (and others around the world) is facing with the recession, the unemployment rate is sky-high despite the efforts of many. What we’re beginning to see is the light at the end of the tunnel, with companies starting to hire again, actively recruiting in their communities. What the recession has taught (and is still teaching us) is that we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.

The recruiting landscape is ever-changing. In order to remain effective and relevant, recruiters are being forced to either roll with the punches or risk becoming obsolete.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how recruiters can stay on top of their game as they prepare for career fairs, both on campus and in their communities:

Find your voice. Your employer brand is a big deal to prospective candidates. How do you describe the career opportunities available? Are your job descriptions and company brochures written in Legal-approved “corporate speak” or are they simplified, and easy to understand? Beyond the basic career fair collateral, are you using platforms like YouTube, blogs, and other social media sites to promote your company with real people, showing candidates a true “day in the life”? The topic of employment branding is a big thing to cover and deserves its own blog post, so I’ll elaborate more in the near future.

Make a commitment. Do you show up on campus once or twice a semester for career fairs and wonder where the students are? Do you do the same thing at a general community career fair? Making a commitment to local community or campus organizations and groups will not only help you educate potential candidates on your company, culture, and career opportunities, but it can be a positive branding opportunity. Ask yourself this question when you start measuring your results: Am I giving as much as I expect to receive? More? Less?

Show up. One of the biggest issues in recruiting is that it’s a field where the need is immediate and not typically thought about long-term. When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. You’ll be hiring again in the future, right? Why not view this as an opportunity to start filling a pipeline of candidates? Even if you can’t afford to fly corporate recruiters across the nation to participate, I would encourage you to engage your local managers if possible. They’re the voice of the community. You can still communicate that you’re not hiring at the moment, but focus on the fact that you want your company to stay top of mind when the positions do open up. Branding is the main point here. Be honest, but take resumes, think about the pipeline, and continue to educate the masses on the opportunities available with your company.

Show up prepared...and coordinate. “Show up” is intentionally reiterated here. If you’re a recruiter working with a large company that has field operations, think about coordinating with the local managers and corporate so that you’re representing one enterprise at the career fair. Nothing is worse than showing up from corporate, only to find out that the local representative are already there or from the other side, showing up from the field with you (most times) limited supplies and have corporate show up with the nicer, fancy materials and booth collateral. What message are you sending to candidates?

Have a clue. The last point that I’d like to mention is that if you’re recruiting at any event (unless it’s a specialized, industry-focused event), have a general knowledge of the common entry-level positions with your company. Just because you don’t recruit for that job, doesn’t mean that it’s ok to tell candidates “well, that’s not my area of responsibility” or worse, make something up. The best approach to this is to simply say, “You know, I’m not 100% certain on that area, but I’d be happy to take your resume back to the right person. In the meantime, please be sure to apply online for the jobs of interest.”

Here’s the call to action:

Job seekers: What are you frustrated with regarding recruiters at career fairs? Tell us - we can't change without your input!

Recruiters: How can job seekers and career services work with you to maximize your recruiting experience? What do you wish we (or you) would do better? Same thing goes here as it does above - tell us so we can adjust!

Career Services: What are the challenges you’re hearing from both sides? Again, we can't fix it if we don't know it's broken.

Have a comment? I welcome them! It helps with transparency. Please leave your comment below. I’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible. If you prefer not to have your comments publicize, you can email me directly at I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s work together to change the world of recruiting and job seeker resources for the better!

Views: 152

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 14, 2010 at 7:36am
Good info
Comment by Kirk Baumann on September 14, 2010 at 2:10pm
C.B. - thanks for the comment.

Rayanne - I completely agree with you! Glad you pointed that out. It's very alarming to see recruiters sitting behind their tables, working on email or blackberries, rather than meeting potential candidates. After all, didn't they come to the career fair to recruit? Thanks for the comment.
Comment by Rachael McDermott on September 14, 2010 at 3:58pm
Great article. As a career services professional in a university setting, I agree on all points and encourage our recruiting employers to engage in these practices. I am currently undertaking a project to enhance the profiles of our most active employers in our online career management system. Students are more inclined to at least check out an employer over other companies if the employer provides students with a lot of information about the company, its culture, career advancement opportunities, social media links and more. I am always impressed with companies with robust careers sections on their website, that make themselves available to students and that maintain good communication with candidates through the recruiting process.

To me it is about (as you mention) managing the employer's brand and creating a good first impression to students. I believe that employers that provide candidates with lots of information about their companies and have an active presence online and on campus convey several important messages - they are serious about recruiting the best talent, they respect their people as well as job candidates, they realize there is a mutual need (employers need good talent as much as the talent needs a job!), and they seem more approachable. These are the companies that attract and retain difference-making employees (I read that phrase in another article here).
Comment by Steven G. Davis on September 14, 2010 at 3:59pm
Show-up whether you are a corporate recruiter or agency. Get to your client/hiring manager and learn who they are and what they do. Because finding a candidate to match the skills is relatively easy, the challenge is finding the candidate that matches the behaviors! You can't make a behavioral match if you don't show up and spend time with your client/hiring managers...So get out there and show up!
Comment by Emily Schlick on September 14, 2010 at 5:09pm
"When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. " Could not agree with you more! Great stuff, thanks for sharing.
Comment by John Reen on September 15, 2010 at 3:21am
"When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. " Could not agree with you more! Great stuff, thanks for sharing.
Comment by Chris Brablc on September 15, 2010 at 11:38am
Nice post, Kirk! To add onto your point about "Showing Up". I wouldn't really solely on recruiters to be the face of your company at Career Fairs. If you are at a college career fair, try to bring some young alums of that college that have been working at the company for a year or two. They usually know the lay of the land and have great insight into the student population that could be valuable. Also, Students love to talk to people from their school and people that have been through the same process as them.

Lastly, stay connected with the top candidates you meet. Whether it's having an email sign-up sheet for a distribution list, collecting resumes or having technology that allows them to auto sign up for updates (via text or computer), make sure you have some process for collecting information so you can inform candidates about your employment opportunities and how to apply.


Comment by Kirk Baumann on September 16, 2010 at 6:30pm
Rachael - You hit the nail on the head. The more visible (positive) an employer is, the better their chances are at actually hiring & retaining the top talent. After all, if you know someone well, you're more likely to maintain loyalty, right? Thanks for the comment!

Steven - I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks so much for offering your insight to this post!

Emily & John - Thank you for the comment. I'm glad you both agree with the information shared. Please pass this on to your network!

Chris - Good addition! Engaging alumni and those that are ACTUALLY in the positions a company is hiring for speaks volumes to their strategy. Recruiters are intimidating, but if a student sees someone their age and/or knows that person, it pulls the "corporate" out of your brand. Now, it's just two friends talking about career opportunities, potential for advancement, and real-life insight around that first year on the job. Staying connected is also crucial - if you are hot in the career fair with the "wow, I'm definitely interested in this" and then never follow up, it leaves a bad impression. This applies to both - job seeker and employer.

Thanks everyone for your comments! Anyone else have something to add? For more great stuff, I would encourage you to visit my blog at I post articles here, but only those that are relevant. There's so much more!


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