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How do I Organize Career Fairs?

by Jill Leviticus

Career fairs provide a convenient way to give job seekers access to a variety of employers. Whether you’re planning the fair for your college, company or organization, you’ll find that thorough planning and preparation is essential. Planning the fair at least six months in advance will allow plenty of time to select and invite employers, finalize details and publicize the event.

Place, Date and Time

The first step in planning a career fair involves choosing a location and picking a date and time. If you’re holding the fair on the premises of your school, company or organization, you might already have a room large enough to accommodate attendees and employers. If not, do some research to find local venues large enough to accommodate the fair. Be sure to check the maximum occupancy allowed by fire code for your venue before you decide on a location. Keep the physical comfort of your attendees in mind when choosing a venue. An un-air-conditioned space won’t be the best choice for an August career fair, even if the space is free.

Budget

Every career fair requires some expenditures no matter how large or small. Holding the fair at your own facility will decrease costs, but you'll still have some expenditures. Prepare a detailed budget to avoid surprise expenses. The Science Careers website notes that you might be charged set-up and clean-up fees by your organization’s maintenance staff. Fees are charged for audio-visual equipment. Other expenses include fees for advertising, venue rental, insurance, name tags, paper, posters, copying and postage. If you plan to host a hospitality room for employers, include costs for coffee, tea, soft drinks and snacks.

Employers

Once you’ve chosen the place, date and time, start contacting employers. Before you send invitations, decide if you will allow employers to attend for free or will charge a fee for booth space. Include details about how many tables and chairs will be provided, the size of the booth, proximity to electrical outlets and Internet service, and information on set-up and break-down times when writing your invitation letter. Use a database to keep track of employer replies and booth assignments.

Staffing

Determine who will staff the career fair. If you plan to staff the fair with volunteers from your organization or company, invite volunteers at least three months prior to the event date. Approach volunteers directly or post invitations on your website, social media platforms and on bulletin boards. how many people you will need to perform such tasks as greeting attendees, staffing the registration table and assisting employers with set-up. The Job Center of Wisconsin website notes that you might also ask staff members to circulate around the event and respond to questions from attendees or employers.

Advertising

Decide how you will let job seekers know about the event. If the fair is targeted to members of your school and organization only, place notices on the school or organization’s Intranet and website. Make posters and place them in high-traffic areas. If you are holding a large career fair, you might want to pay for newspaper, radio or television advertisements and create a dedicated website for the fair. No matter what size the fair, posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can help you spread the word inexpensively. Send press releases to the local media four weeks before the event. Be sure to include the names of several of the employers who will participate and those of any sponsors.

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