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How to Define Career Fair Success in Your Industry

Career fairs, whether virtual, onsite or hybrid, are a great way to revitalize your membership offerings – professional organizations can provide a meeting space for their members and industry employers to connect. Career advancement is a top reason why members join associations, and professional growth opportunities are one of the greatest benefits you can provide those early in their careers. Everyone wants their event to be successful, but success looks different for everyone – especially if you are in the association space.

Let’s dive into how to gauge career fair success in your industry.

Discover 17 Ways to Grow your Association's Career Center through Events and Meetings

Industry Demand

One of the first things to look at is the current demand in your industry. Is job demand projected to increase over the next 5 years? Has hiring slowed or taken a significant dip? Your career fair will most likely mimic the current trends. If demand has significantly increased, you could have a large event. If hiring is slowing down, you may have a smaller event. You are working with the ebbs and flows of the industry so always keep that in mind when determining your results.

Planning

The YM Careers events team has fully managed over 100 world-class career fairs, from marketing to sales to execution. As the experts in planning these events for associations, here are items we consider for career fair success:

Resources

  • What kind of resources do you currently have, and what will you need to acquire, to manage a career event? 
  • Who will present/speak at the event? 
  • Will it be a joint event with co-hosts or sponsors? 

Scheduling

  • Is there anything planned in the upcoming months that could conflict with a career event? 
  • What other events, if any, are your association sponsoring and/or attending? 
  • Are there specific “hiring seasons” within your industry that you should plan a career event around? 

Type of Event

  • On-Site Career Fair – Allows employers and members to meet face-to-face 
  • Virtual Career Fair – Can be more convenient for attendees and employers 
  • Tradeshow or Conference – Connects companies in your industry with your members 
  • Networking – Meet-and-greets and/or networking hours 
  • Resume Review – Provides an extremely valuable service to members 
  • Mentoring – Gives members the opportunity to learn from industry leaders 
  • Learning – Creates learning-focused opportunities for your members 
  • Membership – An event purely focused on your members 
  • All-in-One Event – Combine different themes that complement each other, such as Membership and Networking, Career Coaching and Resume Review

fully managed career events

Difficulty of Hire

The harder a position is to fill, the less likely it becomes for the recruiter to find the right match quickly. High level and specialty roles will take several recruiting avenues and a larger budget to fill. If someone is looking for a pediatric heart surgeon, or a chief of medicine, those roles will not be ones where they attend an event or post a position and find their hire. It will take diligence and continued outreach on their part. Remember this if your industry serves roles like these.

Size of Candidate Pool

The more specific the niche, the fewer attendees and connections you can expect. Think of using a filter on a job board: if you search for nurses in the United States, you are bound to see thousands of results. Now add on a filter for cardiac nurses, add a location filter for Virginia, and an experience filter for a supervisor level, and you’ve got a pretty small pool of candidates. More doesn’t always mean better. Take into consideration the quality of your candidates and the merit of their expertise.

Value of Conversations

Quality also carries over into the conversations being had during your career fair. Having dozens of conversations does not mean that the event, or the employer had success. Being able to screen quality candidates includes learning more about their background and goals and seeing if they fit the position requirements. These conversations tend to be longer than a quick resume glance and a few short questions. If the employer is having fewer but longer conversations, this is typically a great sign.

As you can see, career fair success depends largely on the factors outlined above and can look very different from industry to industry. When analyzing an event’s success keep these points in mind.

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