Career fairs, like the one held during the annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition, allow your company’s team members to connect with individuals seeking internships and job openings.
While any lawn or landscape company that participates in career fairs can tell you they don’t convert as many attendees as they’d like, they still see value in participating in these events.
“As a leader, we have a responsibility to increase awareness of the green industry,” says Jerry Ashmore, director of workplace development and safety for The Greenery, Inc., based on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “Career fairs provide this platform. We also use the opportunity to educate students about our company and the internship and career opportunities we have available. I’ve hired interns that want to gain experience as well as graduates ready to enter the workforce after attending these career fairs.”
Jacob Hong, director of client care for Southview Design, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, encourages attending career fairs as it is an opportunity to give back to others and lead future generations to success.
“There are so many great young people that will take this industry into this crazy technology age that we are coming into,” Hong says. “Innovation and growth will happen as we diversify our teams, and one way to help do that is through participating at career fairs.”
Hong adds that they approach career fairs with the mindset they will not hire everyone, but they want everyone to know they are an option.
“If everyone knows we are an option, then the right people that fit with our culture will find us,” Hong says. “Simply attending career fairs helps people know who you are, and there is so much more.”
Kristina Alonzo, director of human resources for Lambert Landscape Company, based in Dallas, Texas, says her overall goal at career fairs is to make job seekers aware of how the landscape industry isn’t just mowing lawns but can be a fruitful career.
“There are so many career paths in our industry that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of,” she says. “Of course, we would also love to come out of these fairs with new hires and new interns.”
Alonzo says they’ve had landscape architect students come work for them and discover they prefer being a project manager instead of a designer or architect.
Advice for Others
Hong cautions that those who attend career fairs with the overall goal of hiring people will be disappointed. He stresses that this recruiting method is a long game that pays off if you attend consistently. As you attend year over year, the leaders of the career fairs will start sending good people your way who are a cultural fit outside of the career fairs.
Hong says attendees will know who you are, what you do and competitors will recommend people to you if a student isn’t a good fit for them but might be a good fit for you.
To improve your chances of a conversion, have a fine-tuned job description or internship program so you can easily determine if a student is a good fit. If you identify the right candidate at a career fair, Hong suggests moving as quickly as possible.
“Sometimes it takes a little longer, but each day that passes will reduce your ability to retain those people,” Hong says.
You may not be able to staff your entire company through recruiting at career fairs, but you’re guaranteed to not gain any new hires if you do not attend and engage with students at all.
“Have fun with it; you want to present your company as a fun place to work that produces amazing work,” Alonzo says. “Also, take these career fairs as a great networking opportunity, you’ll learn a lot from other companies.”