Meetings

Make Your Meeting a Jobs Hub

By / Feb 24, 2017

Sure, attendees are at your conference to learn, but they could also be there to find their next job. Consider these three benefits to having an onsite job fair or career center at your conference.

People go to conferences for a number of reasons: to hear from industry experts; to learn about new technology, products, and research; and to network with and get to know colleagues.

But many attendees are also there to find a new job or to recruit new employees, which is why associations often host onsite job fairs or career centers at their major meetings. Here are three benefits that may come from doing so:

You’ll get students or those new to the industry to attend. Students and young professionals new to your association’s industry may be contemplating attending your conference, but spending a couple hundred dollars to do so can be a deal-breaker.

Providing opportunities for career advancement can give them a compelling reason to attend. As I noted last month, people in this career stage want to network and get to know other professionals in hopes that it helps their career, which is why offering some type of job fair, along with career-oriented content and opportunities, could be an effective strategy for wooing them. Research shows that millennials’ primary reason for joining associations is access to job opportunities.

For instance, at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation’s 2017 Annual Conference & Expo, for only a $50 registration fee, students can attend the entire conference and get the opportunity to interview with prospective employers onsite (they also get a one-year membership). In addition, the conference offers a slew of career-related sessions that cover everything from interview tactics to salary negotiation.

You’ll show that your association is invested in the future. A lot of industries—from construction and contractors to cybersecurity—are facing workforce shortages and skills gaps. Having a dedicated space at a conference for career content, interviews, coaching, and so forth shows that an association is committed to its industry and the next generation of the workforce, as well as to current industry leaders who are looking to advance their careers.

“I don’t know of anything that could create more loyalty from members of the new generation in the workforce than one simple idea: Everything they need to make their current career great and their next one possible can be found in their association,” wrote Shelly Alcorn, CAE, in a 2014 Associations Now article.

You’ll create new revenue streams. If an onsite career center attracts new attendees to your meeting, that’s great. After all, it’s exposing your organization to a larger audience. Another bonus is that those additional registrations will likely mean additional nondues revenue and a boost to your bottom line.

But a career center can also contribute to revenue in other ways. For instance, most associations require employers to pay a fee to participate and get access to job seekers. Another option is to find a partner to sponsor the career center. One idea: Approach the vendor who manages your association’s online job board and see what role they’d like to play onsite.

How has your association benefited from hosting a career center or job fair at one of its larger meetings? Let us know in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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