When attending a careers fair as an employer, it’s essential to try and make the most out of the day by talking to plenty of candidates and creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere.
In the build-up to the fair, it is important that you ensure prospective apprentices know you will be there. This will allow them to prepare any questions they might have and allocate time to come and speak to you. You can achieve this by:
- Ensuring the organiser of the fair knows you are attending so they can advertise you as going. This will encourage more people to come to the fair and prompt additional interactions on the day.
- Use your social media – it’s free advertising! In advance, publish your intent to attend that careers fair. Be sure to share this information in places it will be seen, even by people who don’t follow your socials already. Examples include local Facebook groups which cover the areas your company has a physical footprint. Anybody interested in your business now knows of a time and a place to have a chat with you. Update these channels throughout the day to remind people you are there.
- Use word of mouth to its best advantage by making sure everyone who works within your business knows you are attending the apprentice fair. Many people find out about events by talking to the people they know, so the more people in possession of all the information about the event, the more people they can encourage to come.
Once at the fair, you don’t want to spend the day standing around trying to get people to talk to you, rather utilise your presence. It’s important to prepare and know your audience to improve the quality of the experience for all involved; here are some tips for attracting apprentices to your stall:
Your Stall’s Appearance
You will want your stall to stand out with attractive colours and images, whilst maintaining a clear focus on what your business is and what kind of apprenticeships you are offering. Bright and eye-catching is the order of the day but also on the correct side of being garish.
It’s a good idea to print information in a large clear font on your signs, so they can be seen across the room, encouraging people to approach you.
Even though queues show interest in your apprenticeships, they do put people off, and you may lose out on meeting a great candidate. Try to shorten the time you talk to candidates if queues are building up. If you can see other people are waiting, don’t keep in a long conversation with one person.
Everybody deserves the opportunity to meet you and find out what you have to offer. Equally, an empty stall can be unattractive and intimidating, so try to keep a few people chatting at all times.
One great way to get future apprentices over to your stall is by handing out freebies. Many businesses choose to bring items with their name and logo to promote their brand, such as pens or notebooks. This can be an excellent way to make sure apprentices don’t forget who you are once they leave the hall.
To stand out against the crowd, get as creative as you like with what you bring; free reusable water bottles or colouring pads are great innovative options, whilst serving as cheap advertising! As well as the fun freebies, it’s useful to bring leaflets or booklets containing all your key information for apprentices to take away with them. Branded canvas bags can be a particular favourite so they can carry all the leaflets etc in them.
Careers fairs can be overwhelming for students, and so they often choose to digest the information when they get home from the leaflets collected throughout the day.
Exchange Contact Information
When you talk to potential apprentices at a careers fair, be sure to swap contact details with any interesting prospects. This way you can follow up with them at a later date and they are able to get back in touch if they have any questions about applying for apprenticeships with your business. Assure them that they are welcome to get back in touch with you at any point and try to build a rapport if you can.
Follow Up With Prospects
Something we hear regularly from employers is that they don’t think careers fairs are all that successful for them, then when we ask what they did with the information they gathered we get a blank look. The whole point of being at the fairs is to connect with potential apprentices and find out who they are, this means it is essential to follow up afterward.
Complaining that careers fairs are unsuccessful when you haven’t followed up with the potential apprentices is like complaining an email mailing list is useless if you haven’t ever sent an email to it. These events are as useful as you make them and success is as dependent on following up as it is on preparation.
Choose Your Best Team
On the day, you want the right people representing your business that are going to be able to create the best environment for future apprentices. Pick your staff who are relaxed, confident, and know a lot about your business to attend so that students can approach your stall with confidence.
If you have some younger staff with good people skills, these are the people you want on your stall. Young apprentices don’t want to feel like all of the people at the place they are considering an apprenticeship with are all older white men.
Another good tip is to take staff members who might have things in common with future apprentices, such as staff who did an apprenticeship themselves or people who went to a particular school or university.
This is a great way to relate to students and show them what it would look like to work for you. Remember: just as you want candidates who will suit your company culture, candidates want to work for people that relate to them.
For more information about the benefits of hiring an apprentice, and other helpful advice, take a look at our hub for employers.