I recently saw an advert for a Careers fair. It was held on a Friday and a Saturday, and there was an impressive list of organizations participating. I couldn’t manage to make it on the Friday, and as it turns I am quite thankful, as I discovered that schools came on the Friday—by the bus load! However, on Saturday I trundled along to see what it all was about, what materials were passed out, what stands looked like—in essence, how organizations were marketing themselves to the talent market. I learned a lot by attending and I encourage any fellow practitioners to do the same when given the opportunity.

Of the many things I observed the one that struck me the most was that all the literature (brochures, booklets, flyers) targeted youth, people just embarking on their journey into the workforce. And the majority of these were targeting graduates, the only real exception being the trades. I overheard someone inquire at one of the booths about a ‘career change’; the poor person at the booth had no response. (I walked on as there is a line between overhearing and eavesdropping.)

It seemed to me that while it may have been appropriate to focus on youth on the Friday, there was a wide range of ages on the Saturday, and that wasn’t just because there were Mums and Dads attending on behalf of or chaperoning their children. If you reviewed your materials for career fairs, do you have anything for the mature worker (ie anyone older than 23)?

I also noticed that while the literature focused on youth, the giveaways didn’t! Who gets excited about a pen or small notepad with a corporate logo on it? Or, perhaps a more relevantly: a USB key, a sling pak (small promotional messenger bag), a mug with great quote or fun graphic (plus the coy logo of course), traveler mugs, a mousepad or a happy highlighter. The list goes on. . . .

In summary, what an opportunity missed for organizations who could have differentiated themselves by identifying roles that best suited the target audience and promoting career change.

Of course, this all loops back to knowing your targeted talent segment, which is explored in our A Real-World Approach to Planning the Right Workforce for Tomorrow’s Organizations. Part 2: Getting Down to Business: How to Workforce Plan. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on your collateral and giveaways, and make sure you are aligning them with your targeted market.