The Force is Strong with You: Employers Maximize Job Fair Success

Posted by Bob Wheeler

We all know it, and we’ve all probably said it. To make a job fair successful, job seekers need to do their homework and prepare ahead of time.  But to be fair, good employers need to understand that this advice goes both ways. And in honor of #Maythe4th, we want to make sure that you are using the Force for your next assignment.

The Jedi Mind Trick

While “these are not the droids you are looking for” doesn’t quite work the same way when looking for your next candidate, all the Jedi mind trick comes down to is a little extra work on your part. For employers, the key to a successful recruitment event is not based on cool trinkets or how flashy the signs are behind your table. The key to a successful job fair is making a connection with the right people. And in this hypercompetitive market for cybersecurity talent, it’s not enough to sit around and wait. You need to be proactive. Here then, are a few things to consider.

  1. Tell people what you’re looking for. At a CyberSecJobs Cyber Job Fair we’ll publicize the positions you’re looking to fill in an effort to help drive the right job seekers to the right events. While listing job titles is a good start, including the general location of the positions is even better.  Cyber Job Fairs are not cattle calls of job seekers meandering the room in search of a handout. We attract high quality, in-demand cleared talent. Telling people what you need ahead of time helps non-qualified people opt out of approaching your booth, allowing you to spend more time with the right candidates.

Delta Risk LinkedIn message

  1. Reach out ahead of time. “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future,” Yoda teaches. A few days prior to each event you’ll get copies of resumes from all job seekers that pre-registered up to that point. Search that file by key word to help locate the top job seekers that are most important to you so that you can reach out ahead of time.

Remember, if you’re interested in speaking with someone, there’s a great chance that other companies are also interested in them. It’s likely some of those companies are also attending the same job fair. Reaching out ahead of time is one great way to separate you from the pack. If you’re bringing a hiring manager or someone from the operational side of your organization, make sure to mention that. Even better, have the hiring manager reach out to the job seeker directly. A few lines about why you’d like to speak with a specific job seeker will go a long way in differentiating your company from others that may be on their radar.

As part of your outreach you can also send over a copy of the job description(s) that might be a good fit. We had one company at last year’s CyberTexas Job Fair do this and it led to an interview, job offer, and acceptance, all taken care of before the job fair even started. Now, we’re not saying this is the norm, but it does show how companies can move quickly to secure the best talent.

Employer outreach also encourages general participation. We know that not all job seekers who register actually make it to the fair. Sometimes the weather affects attendance, other times it has more to do with a job seeker’s daily schedule. Regardless of the reasons they’re considering not attending, outreach by an employer can encourage them to put those reasons aside and show up in person.

I spoke to two job seekers at an event recently who told me specifically that outreach by an employer was the primary reason for their in person attendance that day.

The first job seeker told me that due to a change in his schedule he thought he wouldn’t have the time to attend but added, “I came anyway, went straight to the employer that had reached out to me, had a great conversation, secured a follow up interview, and then left to make it to my next appointment.”

The second job seeker said that because he was preparing to leave the military and this was his first job fair, he just wasn’t sure he was “ready.” He was worried that it wouldn’t be worth the time investment of taking time out from his current job. The Naval Academy grad, with only a few months left on active duty, then shared that when two companies reached out to him, he felt much better about showing up.

When I circled back to those companies to pass along the story they both told me that based on his unique skills and experiences that he was a highly sought after candidate and they were both happy that they were able to connect with him in person and looked forward to furthering their discussions.

  1. Leverage your existing resources. You may not need to use your mind to lift X-wing fighters while looking for a great candidate, but a talent search does require some mind over matter. The marketing team does a great job of getting the word out about each event, to include highlighting the participating organizations and positions they’re looking to fill.

Companies that also leverage their own resources will do even better. Announcing your participation through your company social media channels helps reach audiences that already have a positive opinion of your organization and makes it easy for others to share that info with their peers.

LinkedIn is another terrific place to share your participation. While recruiters have terrific networks, don’t forget to also leverage your operational team. Having a current employee share that your company will be at a hiring event is essentially telling her peers that your company is both a great place to work, and that your hiring.

Finally, go back and utilize the resumes in your own ATS. Remember those job seekers that came in second for a position or perhaps they turned you down in the past? A gentle reminder that you’re in the market again for their skills might encourage them to swing by and say hello.

In the end, it’s worth remembering that in the world of cyber security talent, the job seekers hold the cards, especially the outstanding ones. These job fairs are not just opportunities for candidates to show off their stuff, they’re really opportunities for companies to shine. And the best way to set your company apart from the competition is to reach out early.

Bob WheelerBob Wheeler is a Account Manager, a Navy veteran, a former recruiter and a certified veteran transition coach. You may reach Bob at [email protected]

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 27, 2017 2:42 pm

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