Make a lasting impression at career fairs
Attending a career fair is a substantial investment of time and effort, but it’s worth it! Career fairs are a great way to connect with potential candidates and talk about what sets your district and community apart from others. In a world where communication is predominantly electronic, the opportunity to meet potential candidates face-to-face can have a big impact on recruitment.
Universities and colleges often host career fairs. These are wonderful ways to connect with students who are about to graduate and let them know about opportunities in your district.
Get in touch with career services staff at post-secondary institutions to let them know you want to attend and learn what other opportunities may be available to connect your district to potential candidates. For example, there’s often a social mixer for recruiters and teacher candidates ahead of the event. Advertising opportunities may be available as well.
It makes sense to attend career fairs in areas near your district. But you may also want to look farther afield. It can be a good idea to target university career fairs in geographical areas that cannot support all graduates from the post-secondary program. For example, a university such as Queen’s (which is located in a smaller centre), will likely have more graduates interested in moving to a different community than a university such as the University of Calgary, where graduates are more likely to stay in the same geographic area.
When planning your career fair travels, keep in mind that students attending universities in major metropolitan areas are less likely to move to rural regions than students attending colleges and universities in smaller communities. So if you’re a small district in northern BC, it may not be as fruitful for you to recruit teachers from the Greater Toronto Area as it would be to target teachers from a small Ontario community.
Given that just over one-quarter of newly certified teachers in BC received their training at a university outside of the province, reach out to universities with teacher education programs as a source of new teachers. Learn more about where out-of-province BC teachers completed their training.
Associations and sector-specific organizations also often host career fairs off campus. These fairs bring in a wide range of candidates, especially those who have already graduated from post-secondary institutions and have a few years of professional experience. WorkBC and not-for-profit organizations with employment programs often host these events.
Preparing for the fair
Details make the difference! Review the following tips to ensure that you’re prepared.
- Research candidates and find out what motivates them, so you can fine-tune your messaging when you tell them about your district. If you’re attending a fair in a town with 30 centimetres of snow, maybe highlight the favourable climate in your district.
- Do you have an eye-catching banner that aligns with your district’s branding? This is the first thing that fair attendees see. Make a strong impression and draw people to your booth with a banner that uses bold lettering and incorporates interesting graphics or images. Consider other creative ways of showcasing your district such as preparing a video or incorporating graphics on your tablecloth.
- Order swag. These items will remind attendees of their interaction with you. The swag should be fun, useful and, most importantly, branded! If possible, include your website address on the items.
- Pick up some tourism brochures specific to your area to bring to the fair.
- Spread the word on social media in the weeks leading up to the fair. Use hashtags and mention the institution and teacher education program’s account if applicable. If you plan on interviewing candidates, be sure to mention this in your posts!
- Create an email sign-up form and bring extra copies. You’ll want to encourage everyone you connect with to write down their contact information so you can follow-up with a personal note.
- If you are shipping your banner or materials to the fair, allow for enough lead time in case there are delays with the delivery. And if you’re shipping your banner and materials back home, don’t forget to schedule a pick-up time with the courier.
- Look into whether the fair provides interview spaces. Consider booking some interview space the day after the fair in addition to the day of the fair.
- If you’re attending an event at a university, contact the event organizer or the faculty associate in your area of interest to ask about pre-event promotional opportunities and whether you can give a presentation to students.
- Promote your district’s attendance at the event:
- Email individuals you’ve met at previous fairs to announce that you are coming back to the event.
- Consider purchasing an ad in the career fair’s brochure.
- Run ads on Facebook and Twitter targeting educators in the community.
Sharing information with attendees
Career fairs are a perfect opportunity to talk with people about your district and what makes it a great place to live and work. You should be prepared to discuss specific job openings, as well as what it’s like to live in the area. Even if you’re not hiring at the moment, it is important to highlight key recruitment dates and the types of positions you’ll be recruiting for.
- Know what job opportunities are available as well as any incentives or perks that are available.
- Know what the requirements are for teaching in BC (BC teaching certification). Better yet, provide a hand-out of this out-of-province teacher information.
- Share your district’s mission, learning initiatives, professional development and mentorship opportunities.
- Be able to speak about the community and provide information on housing, transportation and recreational activities in the area. BC tourism brochures are a great resource to give away for those wanting to know more about your area.
- To make it easier for attendees to remember you, give away your swag items, hand out your business cards and hand out a pamphlet or postcard that summarizes important information and directs them to an online resource for more information.
Ask promising attendees for their resume and set up interviews during or after the fair. Universities can often provide you with a private room to interview their students.
Following up with attendees after the fair will make your district stand out.
- By email or on social media, thank attendees for coming and invite those who couldn’t attend to check out the job positions available in your district on Makeafuture.ca.
- If there were any promising candidates you did not interview, get in touch with them after the fair to remind them of opportunities and set up an interview.
- Schedule a reminder in your calendar to reconnect by email or phone with attendees who were not ready to work at the event, but will be graduating soon or have just graduated.
2018/2019 career fairs
Make a Future has compiled a list of Canadian career fairs for your reference, and we’ll update the details periodically as new fairs are announced.
Education Career Fairs 2018/2019 [downloadable PDF]
General Career Fairs 2018/2019 [downloadable PDF]
Check out the following resources for career fair tips. While some of these are geared for corporate audiences, the ideas are just as applicable to the education sector:
- 10 tips for maximizing your career fair experience as an employer (Nancy Holland for Direct Employers)
- Career fair tips for employers (Erica L. Fener for ERE Recruiting Intelligence)
- Eight college career fair tips to win great candidates (Janet Sun for Experience by Simplicity)
And don’t forget to check out these resources on our site: