Let's talk about job fairs. Their purpose is simple; to put a lot of job seekers in the same room with a lot of job fillers (whether they are employers themselves or recruiting agencies) at the same time. The goal is to help people both find work as well as learn about potential work that might be available soon.

These fairs typically last for a day or two and, by the end of them, you’re fried. You’re drowning in resumes, can’t remember anybody’s name and, if you’re being honest with yourself, you’re not sure you made the best impression on the hundreds of people all trying to convince you of their awesomeness in the thirty seconds of time you have to spend with them.

This feeling gets worse if you are the recruiting company that is hosting the fair or conference. You convinced all of these firms and small businesses to come in and buy space. You marketed like crazy, hoping to attract some great and potential new-hires. Instead, everybody is leaving feeling grumpy and sweaty and like they just invested a whole lot of time for very little (or in some cases no) return.

But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if you could create an event that people actually appreciated? What if you could create an event at which contacts actually get made and people actually learn things? It’s possible! Here’s how to do it.

Read, process and then implement your data.

At every one of these fairs you probably ask participants (both job seekers and job fillers) to fill out surveys, right? What do those surveys say?

The Survey Says

A lot of these surveys will rate things by numbers and that’s good. What did people like the best? Try to implement more of that next time. What did they hate the most? Try to have less of that or think about eliminating it completely. What did they say they wanted to see? Why not take some of those suggestions to heart? Those surveys aren’t just about taking up five minutes of a person’s time. They serve a real purpose. It is important to take them seriously.

It’s also important to give them an upgrade.

Paper-based or email-based surveys distributed at the end of an event aren’t going to yield much in the way of genuine feedback. By the time people get them, they’re tired. They may have even forgotten a lot about the event. The results are typically more negative and less detailed than they would be if you had managed to catch someone right after a great talk or interaction. This is why a lot of event organizers have started to adopt event apps.

There's An App For That

Event apps, in addition to being great for programming information, sponsorship opportunities and advertising space, are great for gathering real time information and feedback about an event. 

DoubleDutch, a company that specializes in event apps, has implemented customer satisfaction metrics into its event performance measurements. Live surveys have also proved useful in measuring the success and failures of events.

Another benefit to using apps is they allow organizers, job fillers and job seekers to all interact with each other in real time. For example, if your job fair includes an education track, your speakers can post links to their notes and slides on the app and allow attendees to access them even if they aren’t able to sit in on the talk itself. 

They can also be used to facilitate and streamline the Q&A process and to foster connections that some might not have felt comfortable attempting face to face (rule of thumb: a portion of every event population is introverted. Find ways to accommodate that).

The best thing about collecting data in real time is that it is genuine and, generally speaking, a lot more honest and on point than you would get if you waited until the end of the event to ask for it.

It is important, also, to understand that this information isn’t just applicable for those of you who might be piecing together job fairs in your own areas. It also can apply to those who are simply participating in another company’s event. Real time feedback can help you build better booths, have better meetings, run better talks and panels, etc.

So keep doing the special events. They do serve a purpose, both for those who have jobs to fill and those looking for work. Just do them differently. With Data. It really is your best friend.