How to Recruit Discreetly at a Job Fair

by Nicole Vulcan
Give a speech on a topic related to your industry to attract qualified candidates.

Give a speech on a topic related to your industry to attract qualified candidates.

As a recruiter, the traditional way to handle a job fair is to set up a booth and allow job-seekers to come to you. While that's certainly the most common method, it's not the only way to recruit candidates. If you don't want to be stuck in the booth all day, explore more discreet alternatives that can help you attract and identify motivated, interested candidates.

Talk to the job fair organizers about an alternative to a job booth. Some conferences and job fairs offer options that allow you access to the job fair and all conference events without having to set up a booth. You may also get a list of job-seekers who are attending the fair. This may be a lower-cost option than the traditional booth.

Review the list of attendees ahead of time to identify people with whom you'd like to speak, and make notes of any specific items you'd like to discuss with each person. Keep the list on hand during the event to help jog your memory.

Sign up to give a speech, host a round-table or panel discussion, or take part in another group activity during which you can talk about your company and what it does. Interested candidates may attend, then approach you later on to talk about job possibilities. Another option is to put a company profile, including your picture, in the newsletter or job fair program, so interested candidates can read it and get to know you.

Wear a name tag that lets job-seekers know who you are and what company you represent. Mingle in the exhibit hall and during mealtimes and cocktail hours, talking to as many people as you can to get a feel for who's attending. Typically, job-seekers will be wearing name tags, too, so you'll be able to identify the people on the list you made ahead of the job fair.

Hand out business cards selectively, after you've talked with a job-seeker and determined that he might have the right combination of skills and training. If you're looking to be really discreet, don't let job-seekers know that you have specific job positions open. Instead, you may want to let them know that you're "testing the waters."


  • Continue to use the job fair's online resources, including forums and attendee profiles, to follow up with job-seekers you're interested in pursuing.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

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