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Job fair tips for contractors: Employer’s guide to success

Construction worker performing work on the exterior of the structure | Job fair tips for contractors | Knowify

With labor shortages remaining a top industry concern for many contractors, career fairs have become increasingly valuable for finding skilled workers. With 25% more openings than filled positions, attending a single job fair won’t solve your labor needs. However, the specialty trades must do more to educate and spread awareness of available job opportunities.

Career fairs are a great way to educate young professionals on the merits of your trade and will hopefully result in new recruits joining your crew. Below our a few job fair tips for contractors to be more successful in planning and engaging at job fairs.

How to find career/job fairs

There are two types of job fairs. One is for young people who are just entering the workforce and are still unsure of the career they want to pursue. The other is aimed at individuals already in the workforce or industry looking for new opportunities. If you are looking for apprentices or interns, school job fairs will be your best option. If you are looking for journeymen, project managers, or salespeople, then look to attend industry job fairs.

Most high schools and universities will have several career fairs throughout the school year. These are important functions for students, and many schools require students to attend. The value of high school career fairs is that these students are likely still unsure what job is right for them. This allows you to inform students about your trade’s positive aspects and the available career opportunities. 

Consider getting in touch with your local high school’s vocational program or consider targeting vocational schools specifically. Many schools offer woodworking, metalworking, and electronics classes. Get in touch with these teachers before a career fair so they can let students know that your company will be in attendance. This ensures that students already interested in a work-with-your-hands job will visit your booth. Networking with these teachers can open up other opportunities outside of the job fair. You may be able to set up a presentation or demonstration that you can give the class to educate them on your trade. 

While most universities will have fairs aimed toward many majors outside of construction, it’s worth checking the universities in your area to see what career fairs they run. Some universities will have construction industry career fairs. These are great opportunities to speak with individuals seeking an internship or apprenticeship. With these talent-rich environments, you’ll be able to increase brand awareness among the community at the same time. 

If your local universities don’t have a career fair specific to construction, still consider attending their career fairs. Only 27% of college grads will take a job related to their major, so it’s worth talking to students about your opportunities. You may just be the spark they needed to consider a job in your trade. 

To find industry job fairs, check your city’s website and look for an event calendar. Many local jurisdictions will list job fairs occurring throughout the year. Check the sites of local stadiums, event centers, and venues. Don’t forget to ask around amongst your professional circle as well. Fellow tradespeople can be an underutilized source for getting job fair tips for contractors.

How to prepare

Set goals 

Decide on a recruitment goal. Assess the gaps in your current crew. Focus on the roles you feel need more depth. Most job students will be willing and ready to join as an intern or apprentice, so look for roles with good learning opportunities with room to grow. Establish what role or positions you are willing to bring on board. As a company, you must define the qualities and traits you value most in employees. What kind of candidate are you looking for? 

Set measurable goals that you can evaluate at the end of the fair. This could be as straightforward as “get five interviews scheduled,” “collect 20 resumes”, or “hire one candidate who you met at the fair.” Establishing goals is vital for many reasons. For one, it gives you something to evaluate at the end to determine if they are worth the investment. Another is to keep your staff focused on the day of the event. 

Know your audience 

While high school students will not have much prior experience, university students come from all walks of life, and ages can vary. So they very well may have the experience that is relevant to your company. Keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask if they have past experiences. Think of the skills, interests, and mentalities that will work well in your trade. Then create a series of questions you can ask candidates to help determine if prospects meet those requirements. 

There will be two types of candidates if you’re attending an industry job fair for adults. Those with prior industry experience and those without experience looking to enter the industry. Since these are not students, these individuals will have prior work experience and have a much better understanding of what they are looking for from companies. Be prepared to engage and speak on job security, pay scale, and workplace culture that can differentiate you from other contractors. Either way expect to engage with both types of candidates.

Prepare your staff

Remember that this is just as much of an interview for you as it is for candidates. Be prepared to answer questions, big and small, about your trade. Be ready to talk about why and how you got involved in your trade and why you continue to do it. Speak to the feelings of accomplishment it gives you. Candidates want to be inspired, so focus on positive aspects. Just be sure to keep it honest. Don’t exaggerate the job for the sake of making the hire. The more open you are, the better your chances of hiring a qualified candidate. 

This differs from a tradeshow because most students will have a minimal understanding of almost every aspect of your trade. Ensure your staff can educate and clearly explain every aspect of a job site experience. Students will be curious to know almost everything. Look to shatter inaccurate stigmas about the construction industry. Make it clear that your company can provide opportunities to move up in the company or change roles. Explain the career path opportunities by illustrating the training or education you can provide them. 

If targeting a more experienced-based position, ensure your staff can speak on the intricacies of the role you are looking to hire. Consider having someone who has this role attend the show so they can speak on the day-to-day activities and expectations of the role. 

Plan your booth

On to our next job fair tips for contractors, don’t treat your booth and display as you would at a tradeshow. You are not trying to sell your services. Instead, you are trying to sell who you are as a company. As always, check with event organizers on the specifications and requirements for your booth to ensure you comply. You don’t need to have anything too extravagant here. A simple display with banners, signage and a table will do. You should, however, lean into the “cool factor” of your trade. Bring in tools, portable machinery, and other safe gear for candidates to interact with. Give quick demonstrations on how specific tools or gear work. Similar to trade shows, think of an engaging way to create field-based or real-world examples of jobs. 

Job fairs are an excellent way to spread awareness so ensure your booth has effective messaging and branding. Your booth should communicate the following: 

Who are you? 
What do you do? 
What are the opportunities you provide? 
What company culture do you have? 

What to bring 

Look to stand out as an employer by bringing plenty of branded giveaways and informational material. Items to bring:

Booth Materials: 

  • Brochures
  • Business cards
  • Infographics/signage
  • Merchandise giveaways
  • One-sheeters 
  • Pictures of completed projects
  • Pictures and photos of worksites or job sites
  • Branded Signage 
  • Demo materials (tools, gear, or other equipment)
  • Collateral detailing open jobs (salary, duties, start date, etc.) 

Your materials should highlight your company’s identity and explain what you can offer candidates. Remember, you are not trying to sell your services, you are trying to sell who you are as an employer. 

Brochures and one-sheeters should include:

  • Your company story 
  • Mission statements 
  • Core values
  • Services 
  • Open positions and opportunities that are available 

One-sheeters and brochures should give a quick run-down of the details, benefits, and services you provide in addition to contact information. Think of it as an elevator pitch in print. Keep your messaging straightforward and highlight the most important things you want to convey. Your selling points and value proposition should be immediately apparent. 

How to handle the day of the event 

Arrive early on the day of the event to give yourself plenty of time to set up. Before candidates arrive, have a quick huddle with your crew. Go over your goals for the day, what roles you are looking for, and any other aspects of the job that you want to communicate. Assign responsibilities to your crew, so everyone knows when and where they are needed.

Be sure to stand up straight with an inviting demeanor. Don’t be afraid to ask those passing by if they are interested in learning more about your business. When interacting with candidates, be sure to give them your full attention. If they stopped by your booth, the interest is there, so be fully engaged. Use it as a mini-interview by asking meaningful questions about their interests, career aspirations, and industry knowledge. Ask what they know about your trade or if they happen to have any experience in it. If not, use this as a genuine opportunity to educate. This is where the value of attending a career fair will come into play. Many people simply don’t know or understand the construction industry. Show them how vital your industry is to the function of society and how it impacts your sense of accomplishment. 

This is an important note to hit. 9 out of 10 employees would trade a higher income for more meaningful work. The construction industry is at the core of the US economy. As a part of this industry, you have unique standing coming from a trade that directly impacts society. Use this information to inspire candidates and expose them to the importance of your work. 

When speaking with candidates, always mention your apprenticeships or internship opportunities. Let them know precisely what you are looking for. Then highlight the career growth opportunities. Be clear, honest, and straightforward. Have collateral on available jobs with descriptions, salary ranges, and relevant information. Share this with candidates and allow them time to ask questions. 

Have an updated schedule readily available. Try to get interviews scheduled and on the books right then and there. If you need time to evaluate their resume, have a follow-up plan in place. Collect their physical resume and inform them of your follow plan providing timelines and next steps. Speed is key here. Try to schedule the first round of interviews for the following week if you can. 

If you arranged for the vocational students to stop by your booth, be prepared for when they stop by. This would be a great time to run through a demonstration or give a quick presentation on the tools and equipment of your trade. When showcasing your booth materials speak clearly and often pause to ask if anyone has questions. Treat each question with importance and provide as thorough an answer as possible. 

Hand out your giveaways, let candidates interact with your booth, and ask them questions to kick off the conversation. Collect contact information before they leave, and keep track of the number of people you interact with. Hand out your contact information and any brochures or informational pieces you have and inform them of your intent to follow up. 

What to do after the show 

One of the most important job fair tips for contractors comes after the event. Evaluate all resumes you collected and execute follow-ups. Get interviews scheduled quickly. Candidates likely talked to dozens of other companies and may have already scheduled interviews elsewhere. Don’t miss out on a promising candidate by waiting too long. 

With timely matters taken care of, evaluate how the event went overall. Check how you did against your goals. Did you collect the number of resumes you wanted? Did you schedule the number of interviews you set? If not, try to come to an understanding of why you missed your mark. If yes, try to pinpoint what worked so you can incorporate that into your next event. List three things you learned, three things that went well, and three things you could improve on. Use what you write as the foundation for planning your next event. 


We hope these job fair tips for contractors help you maximize your next recruiting experience at a job fair or career day. Set goals, go in with a plan, and educate candidates on the positive aspects of your trade. With these job fair tips for contractors hire the right candidates for your business with confidence.