Career Fairs - A Thing of The Past?

StaffOnDemand Blog

Would career fairs, a hustle and bustle affair of eager employers waving out job opportunities meeting curious jobseekers at a tightly packed atrium of a school, conference hall or community area be a thing of a past? Here are 2 common grouses by recruiters that actively participate in career fairs:

A Strangers’ Union
At career fairs, things can get awkward as jobseekers stream by to chat with the recruiters stationed at their respective booths. Information traffic is more often than not, a one-way street, where the recruiters know zilch about the jobseekers and spend most of their time repeatedly introducing about their opportunities at hand.

Much like at a cocktail party where you know nobody,  recruiters often have to engage in small talk to get to know the person that lands at their booth without knowing if the person is a suitable fit for the role(s) and can only review the candidates’ submitted resumes after the career fair - Unless the candidate made a huge (and positive) impression, it is very hard to recall and match the person against the mountain of resumes collated at the career fair - This process can be a very time consuming affair that yield little results (i.e. in confirming a hire).

Dealing with the mountain of paper resumes is another nightmare that deserves its own story - Under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), additional precautionary measures have to be taken into consideration to ensure that personal data (e.g. submitted in the form of a paper resume or application form filled up at the career fair) is properly managed and accessed by only relevant personnel handling recruitment.

Freebie Collectors Galore

As a seasoned recruiter at a Career Fair would know, the booth is not complete without snazzy freebies, and usually brings along stashes of carefully branded stationeries (notebooks, pens and marketing collaterals) and lug them all to the career fair with great anticipation of good candidate yield. In public career fairs where admission is not restricted, you may have the misfortune to encounter “freebie collectors”, who takes an obsessive interest in the snazzy freebies rather than the job opportunities. Instead of focusing on identifying talent in the mix, the recruiter has to double up to guard the freebies like a watchful hawk amidst a busy busy fair…

Which kind of begs the question…

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply put out the recruitment ads online to wait for jobseekers to apply instead?

Distilling the Winning Elements of Career Fairs

What would make Career Fairs worth their while (and efforts to lug down the banners, freebies and collaterals with your recruitment team)?

Truth be told, one of the irreplaceable elements of career fairs as opposed to online recruitment ads, is the ability to interact with the jobseekers face to face much akin to a snap interview. It is a golden opportunity for the recruiter to see beyond the standard resume, and actively assess if the person is the right fit for the opportunities available.

For the jobseekers, this gives them direct access to the recruiters at the company, and a glimpse at the corporate culture of the company through interaction with the recruiters. A job may look great in the advertisement (as job ads are very well intended for), but jobseekers will get true clarity through the ability to speak with some of the team members at the career fair and assess if they are the right fit for the job before investing time and effort to send in an application.

Career Fairs 2.0 - 3 Ways Career Fairs Can Be Disrupted For the Better

“Software is Eating the World.”

Marc Andreessen, 2011

These days, there is literally an app for everything - An app to get you food at your door step, or a ride out to your workplace and even one to get your laundry done like magic.

Increasingly, technology is disrupting every sector of our lives, for the better, by enabling us to do things with greater convenience. Likewise, talent acquisition has not been immune either to the sweeping changes that technology brings; The reality is that a more aware and connected generation is now the majority in today’s workforce, and recruiters have to cater for this majority in terms of talent acquisition efforts.

Successful recruiters today not only have a deep understanding of these trends, but also actively embrace a digital mind-set in delivering effective talent acquisition strategies.

In light of this, here are 3 key ways we believe can make career fairs truly a great way for recruiters to hire talents:

1 - Eliminating Small Talk to Placement Success

One of the best ways to get started is to abolish the one way information traffic between recruiters and jobseekers - Have your job ad posted and advertised to career fair participants at least 2 - 3 weeks before, and invite interested jobseekers to send their application to you for shortlisting prioritisation. Should they be shortlisted, they would warrant an exclusive interview during the career fair with the recruiters. Instead of having small talk, you can now engage with the jobseeker in a deeper conversation about his/her suitability of the role, and may even be lucky enough to offer a placement at the fair itself!

By allowing jobseekers to signal their interest in your job opportunities prior to the career fair, you are actually enabling your team to set and garner the success metrics of each and every career fair that the team participated in - For e.g., you can assess if the career fair warrants as a good investment to target the right talents by assessing the number of candidates that were subsequently interviewed or even hired on the spot at the career fair. This helps to attain management buy-in in supporting and investing in future talent acquisition drives in the career fair, and validates the work done by your recruitment team.

2 - Encouraging Jobseeker Participation

Encourage jobseekers the chance to engage with your recruiters at the carer fair by crafting games that allows recruiters to see if the jobseeker have done his/her homework prior to coming down for the career fair - It could be something simple as getting the jobseeker to cite recent news about the firm (e.g. launch of a new product offering, etc). This gives the recruiter more fodder to engage with the jobseeker, and also offer a little gesture of appreciation for the jobseeker participation with a company branded freebie (e.g. a notebook).

3 - Enabling Better and More Secure Applicant Data Collection

In Singapore, millennials (aged between 16 and 30) send an average of 3.4 hours per day on their mobile phones, and over 70% of the jobseekers in Singapore browses jobs on their mobile devices on popular online job sites. Tap on this trend and ensure that your career portal is not only mobile responsive, but also able to receive applications from interested jobseekers as well - This way, you get to preview the potential of candidates that are coming down to the Career Fair, and also, streamline your data collection process.

Learn more about why this is extremely important for recruiters looking to build a strong talent pipeline here!


Millennials in Singapore spend almost 3.4 hours a day on their mobile phones: Study , The Straits Times, 19 Nov 2015