Dear Workforce How Do We Host an Open House for Recruiting

By Staff Report

Mar. 11, 2005

Dear Head-Scratcher:

Comedian Tom Lehrer once said: “Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” The same goes for open-house initiatives. There’s no generic answer for the value of an open house. Those that are well-designed and professionally executed usually are great events. Poorly executed events thrown together with the passion of a tax document are woeful failures. As usual, we tend to blame–or credit–the venue, not the planner.

If you want to have a successful open house, follow these guidelines.

Determine the type of candidates you want. Are you recruiting candidates who will come to such an event? Executive VPs of marketing rarely go to fairs. Nor do candidates from companies with close cultural histories with yours, for fear of meeting a coworker or boss.

“If you build it, they will come.” Many open-house events are little more than thinly veiled mass interviews, with all the charm and elegance of a mass deportation. Plan an event. Work with your marketing and sales folks to set up product demonstrations. Use past press videos to offer continuous information. Give candidates color-coded badges based on skill profiles, and give your employees similar color badges. Set up a “meet and greet” area where everyone–candidates and employees–can come in contact. Establish private meeting rooms where two or more of your employees can sit down with a candidate and do an informal interview/information exchange.

Security is the rule. Require photo identification for admittance to the event. Require that bags, boxes or knapsacks be checked at the front desk. Provide adequate security to deal with potential issues before they escalate.

Control expectations. Do not sell an open house as a panacea for all recruiting ills. Tell your managers it’s simply another tool for tapping top candidates. Sell the concept as an opportunity for them to judge and assess the “pool in which the bucket is dipped.” This is their chance to wade in the waters where you swim every day. Are you in the right pool?

Have real jobs to offer. Nothing spreads through a crowd faster at an open house than the fact that no jobs are to be had.

Invite the guests you want. Just because it’s an open house does not mean everyone is invited. Use your online recruiting tools to develop “guest talent profiles” and send e-mail invitations to those you select. Go after the candidates you lost 6 to 12 months ago. Search out candidates at competitors. They may not come, but if you create a buzz about your company at their place of business, the effect is the same as if they had attended.

SOURCE:Ken Gaffey, principal, Kenneth T. Gaffey Consulting, Melrose, Massachusetts, April 9, 2004.

LEARN MORE:Internship Programs: What Candidates Find Appealing.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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