Having some fun at a recent engineering career fair.
I recently attended a career fair with our HR Manager to look for quality production candidates to join our custom automation group in Greenfield, Ind. Currently, we have openings for assemblers, a fabricator, a welder, and an electrician.
As an employer, we typically list most of our job openings online that push to virtual job boards, but I have found attending career fairs can be very valuable for a one main reason—face-to-face contact. I can ask questions that do not show up on a normal resume and very quickly asses a candidate; however, more importantly I can ask questions that might not show up on a form-based job application.
To be honest, today’s average people looking for a new career do not always know how to sell themselves to a potential employer, especially on paper. As a hiring manager, I see hundreds of applications a year and most I pass over as nothing stands out. Any more I would argue that a resume is important for a production employee as I look for some key attributes when hiring that are hard to show on a form application. These attributes include:
- Mechanical/Electrical aptitude
- The ability to learn
- The desire to learn
- Work ethic
For example, an applicant for our mechanical assembly team might have no formal custom machine building experience. However, he or she might be a “gear head”. It might show up on a resume as a hobby such as working on cars, or I might have to ask some questions upon meeting the candidate. Looking at an applicant’s resume, an accomplishment might show up as, “Frame off restoration of a Ford Model T”. Reading this on a resume I would hope the applicant:
- Is mechanically inclined, depending on how much of the car he/she restored
- Has the desire to learn how to restore the car
- Has the ability to learn how to restore the car
- Has a good work ethic depending on when and how long it took to restore the car
With an application or resume, there is often not a way to know if this candidate possesses the four attributes I mentioned above given the standard templates career seekers are given. It would take a phone call or interview to find out for sure. At a career fair, I can immediately ask these questions:
- How much of the car did you personally restore?
- How far into the motor or transmission did you go?
- Did you take the heads off, crank and cam shaft out?
- When you put it back together did it work?
- How long did it take to restore?
With these quick questions, I can typically confirm or question the four attributes. A formal interview and reference checks will confirm this later, but at least this applicant can look forward to an initial interview. Another benefit to meeting a candidate first is that I’ll have more confidence that we are bringing in a quality candidate for an interview and won’t be wasting time for either party.
Online applications and job postings are definitely an efficient way to announce openings and bring in a large number of candidates, but sometimes it is nice to have that initial face-to-face meeting. You get a better feel for the candidate’s capabilities and potential for success with your team.
Does your company attend career fairs? If so, have they helped you find quality candidates?