At a time when most job seekers are researching and applying for positions online, hosting a job fair at your dealership might seem like an outdated recruiting tool. However, job fairs remain an effective way to find top talent – and an opportunity to let prospective employees know about the benefits of working at your dealership. AutoNation, the largest automotive retailer in the U.S., hosted a nationwide hiring day in January, complete with job fairs across 15 cities. Managers from participating stores were on hand to interview qualified sales and service candidates, and even – in some cases – make job offers on the spot.
For small and large dealerships alike, job fairs can be well worth your time. Below, we’ve pulled together several benefits hosting a job fair, as well as several tips and tricks for setting up your job fair for success.
Benefits of Hosting a Job Fair
Attract Engaged Candidates
If a candidate is willing to come to a job fair, it likely means they’re very interested in working for your dealership, going far beyond clicking a few buttons to fill out an online application. In some cases, they might have even taken time off from their current jobs to learn about your dealership. Make sure to show your appreciation and keep candidates engaged by asking how they heard about the job fair and why they’re interested in your dealership.
Get to Know Prospective Employees
A job fair enables you to meet many potential candidates in a casual setting before the official interview phase. Job fairs can also make it easier to differentiate between qualified candidates and unqualified candidates than reading a resume. For sales roles in particular, job fairs offer you the opportunity to see how candidates carry themselves – such as whether or not they’re personable and confident – both key qualities to look for in a salesperson. This will also help save time and money in the long run, as you can weed out candidates who aren’t a fit before scheduling formal in-person interviews.
Give Candidates a Taste of Your Culture
Your dealership’s website and job descriptions can only showcase so much about your culture. By inviting interested candidates to your dealership, they can better understand the look and feel of your dealership, as well as the culture. For any open roles – such as sales and service positions – consider asking employees already in those roles to walk through a ‘day in the life’ at your dealership and even give personal tours to qualified candidates.
Keys to Job Fair Success
Develop a Plan
A first step in planning a dealership career fair is to set goals. First, determine how many and which types of roles you need
to fill. Also plan out timing, budget, capacity, responsibilities and potential marketing efforts for your job fair. If you have a limited budget or capacity in your dealership, consider setting a limit on number of attendees. Consider implementing an RSVP process and setting a limit. You don’t want your staff to be overwhelmed by too many attendees, and instead want to have a bit of time to get to know each prospective candidate. Having a registration form also gets you candidate information if you have new roles open in the future.
Establish Key Messages
Have each team member running the job fair know have a concise elevator pitch ready about your dealership and the job opportunities available. After all, candidates aren’t just selling themselves to you, but you also need to sell candidates on the benefits of working for your dealership. Most job seekers are likely looking for work at other companies, including dealerships, so make sure you represent your dealership in the best way possible.
Market the Event
While some local job seekers might hear about your event from word of mouth, you should also market the event to attract strong candidates. Update online job postings,d your dealership website and social media to include information about the job fair. Also advertise in local newspapers and job listings. Another option is to speak with career centers at local colleges, to encourage upcoming graduates to work at your dealership.
Once job fair day rolls around, encourage your staff to be as welcoming and enthusiastic as possible – and be ready with your
key messages. Let attendees know you appreciate their time and have a list of interview questions prepared so you can get to know prospective employees. Also encourage attendees to ask their own questions, so they can learn as much as possible about working at your dealership. When you meet strong candidates, make your interest clear and let them know you’ll follow up shortly regarding next steps.
Plan a Follow Up Strategy
While AutoNation offered some jobs on the spot, you’ll meet a lot of candidates during a job fair, so you might want to regroup with your team first and review applications. Determine a process to follow up with top candidates – and do so quickly before they’re snatched up by another dealership or other job opportunity. As a way to stay organized, also encourage candidates to formally apply for open positions online either when they RSVP or immediately following the career fair. Online applications will make it much easier and efficient to move candidates through your hiring process than sifting through a stack of resumes or business cards.