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Lets Get Personal

This isn’t a pickup line. Rather, this next jump into our “medium madness” series (recruiting/sourcing options) is going to deal with personal appearances; tradeshows, job fairs, and training program visits.

As a quick recap for any who haven’t been on this journey with “The Human System,” you can always click on this, take you to the blog format and see all the previous issues.  The journey’s 1-2-3: The competitive value of maximizing your human system -->The People Flow Continuum model --> Foundational importance of Recruitment -->  Recruiting is Marketing --> Evaluating different mediums.  There, now you are pseudo caught up.

Before we look at these, think of the broad range of people you recruit and employ:  Executives, therapists, nurses, housekeepers, med-techs, food workers, pharmacists, etc.



  • Direct vs. Indirect:  We are moving to a more direct recruitment approach now.  More direct than advertising. (last post)  Attending trade shows is a way of reaching people who may or may not have any interest in making a career change; they are there for a different primary purpose (usually).  You may go as a participant with the ambition of networking for recruitment, you may be speaking at the show, or you may have a booth set up as an exhibitor.

  • How long does it last? This is going to depend on how you approach it.  If you have a booth you most likely get with that a list of attendees.  You may do a pre-conference mail-out alerting people you will be there, something to interest them.  Next you have the actual time of the conference.  Are you participating in any other way?  Are you an attendee as well?  Are you speaking? Are you sponsoring any events?

  • What is the cost of this medium? This can range from the low-end of just being an active networking participant to having an elaborate booth and/or sponsoring events of the show.  There are many variables to all these.

  • Accountability:   Like advertising, you have an expectation, but there really is no accountability for any specific result.  History is the best predictor of the future in this regard, but do your homework to maximize.


Remember, a history of hires vs. good hires may be different.  Be attuned to the dynamic.  Keep track of the success or failure of hires relative to your sourcing methods.

  • What should your expectation of this medium be? This will vary by many obvious factors.  Is this a local, regional, or national event?  Cost as well as expectation will vary.  If you are looking for staff  individuals, understand that fewer are willing to relocate their families.  In management and executive roles, people are more likely to move for growth and career opportunity.


Blunder example:  At the ASHHRA (healthcare HR) conference I attended several years ago, there was a physician recruiting firm with a vendor booth.  How many HR leaders do you know who make physician recruitment decisions?  I don’t think I have to elaborate, but pick your venues with some thought: know your audience.


Job fairs:

By design, you are in a very directly competitive situation for people’s interest, unless you are the exclusive host of the job fair.  Usually job fairs are a local event. They could be as specific as a single discipline such as nursing.  They could be industry specific, such as “healthcare”. Job fairs can be very broad and general.  (This is where you are more likely to get the entry level worker that is willing to learn a new skill.)

  • Direct vs. Indirect:  This involves people that are actively seeking employment.  If it is not for entry level positions, why are people there?  Have a certain amount of skepticism.  This is a direct form of recruitment.  It does give you a great deal of interaction with potential candidates.

  • How long does it last? What kind of preparation and post-fair follow-up systems you have will determine what the true value and longevity you get from this is beyond the specific time there.

  • What is the cost of this medium? Again, are you the only one hosting the job fair?  If so, your cost is not a shared one and most likely more expensive.  However, your investment most likely has a higher return.  Look at total cost per hire, and return on investment, NOT JUST INITIAL COST in making your financial decisions.


Aside:  This is as good a place as any to emphasize the concept of cost being either an expense or an investment.     Before you judge any recruiting initiative based on cost (quantity of dollars spent and people’s time), understand if those dollars spent are either an expense or an investment.  A recruitment initiative may get the green light because it is low vs. high cost.   If you get a quality result, great! But if you don’t get an expected result, instead of an investment, you have created only expenses.  The larger the dollars spent, the greater your expected return on investment should be and the less risk of failure you should have to assume.  You have a great responsibility in understanding the aspects of accountability and your resources. 


Question: What is the greatest cost of all?

Answer:  When you are responsible for a bad hire.  Any bad hire can cost your organization a phenomenal amount of money, reputation, culture, etc.  How bad could it be?  Use your imagination. You never hear someone say after the fact, “Yeah, but you know, Joe/Sally, only cost us $250 in recruitment costs.”  Risk vs. Reward.  Understand it thoroughly and be a recruitment expert.


  • Accountability: ?  The medium itself gives you no accountability.  However, if you are getting the chance to interact with interested and theoretically qualified applicants, your odds are better.

  • What should your expectation of this medium be? Organization, advertisement and promotion, venue, etc. are all factors that will directly affect your expecation.


Thought:  What if instead of calling it a job fair, you were sponsoring an educational event with door prizes, but took some time to very directly communicate the history, culture, and vision of your organization?  Would you get a better quality pool of potential candidates there to market to?

Training programs and schools:


This is typically for entry-level staff individuals.  (The only exception to this is if you are looking for new MHA graduates for operational leadership roles or clinical nurse specialists, requiring a masters degree.)

  • Direct vs. Indirect:  This is a very direct method of recruitment.  There are still those who may choose not to hear your message, but you are able to market to people entering the work force with a skill you need.  These are not people unhappy or unsuccessful somewhere else, but a full mix of potential candidates.

  • How long does it last? A visit may only last a short period of time, but with good database development and follow up, you can get good use of this for a long time.

  • What is the cost of this medium? Is the program local or do you have to travel to it?  Is there a charge for formally being on campus?

  • Accountability: This is another way that you expend your dollars and look at history to know your probability of success.  Again though, there is no real accountability for this medium.

  • What should your expectation of this medium be? I’m going to answer this differently.  How does your culture, location, and dynamics competitively measure up against all the other organizations coming to market to these people?  How well do you communicate it?  How do the people you send represent you?  Answering these questions will help tell you what your expectation should be.


I haven’t specifically mentioned foreign recruitment here.  Foreign recruitment trips can fall into all three categories (trade shows, job fairs, training programs), just on foreign soil.  I actually saw an advertisement once by someone that was going to be at a large nursing job fair in Canada .  Nothing wrong with that, but for a moderate fee, this person would send you copies of all of the resumes they garnished while at the job fair.  That sounds fine on the surface, but he wanted to send the same group of resumes to everyone that would pay for them.  Would you be one of 10, 100, or 1000 getting the same batch of resumes?  There was no inference of a limit of any kind.  You and everyone else would then be calling the same nurses, same resumes; let the auction begin, IF the person hadn’t already made a commitment to someone else.  So, be careful.  If it looks like a good deal, dig, understand, then decide.

Aside:  There is another type of “personal appearance” strategy that is best known and credited to Cisco for developing.  It is more indirect, but has been very successful.  They surveyed groups of employees to find out how they spent their time, where they went, figuring that similar people would be there (their target market) and positioned themselves to be there.  They would actually set up booths and greet people at sporting events, home improvement shows, etc.  The point was to be where potential candidates/employees might be spending their time.  Do you think this was effective?  Others and I wouldn’t be writing about it if it weren’t.  Just think about the psychological dynamic of this vs. other more “anticipated” points of meeting like job fairs, trade shows, etc.

Who represents you at these personal events? Pick wisely and diversely.  These are your sales team.  You don’t have a sales department in your hospital?  If you are sending anyone to one of the above venues, they are your sales people.  Do they have a pleasant, positive, sales-type personality?  No?  They just kind of hang out and pass out goodies and packets?  I have a monkey that will do it cheaper and be more entertaining.  Don’t commit the resources on personal appearances and then bail out on the investment with the wrong people representing you.  You need to send a diversity of you’re A-players.  A-player candidates don’t join organizations that send “B-C” representatives.  Diversity not necessarily in ethnicity, but diversity in backgrounds and interests.  A group of all golfers may not appeal to those that like to hunt and fish.  A department of women that all play tennis may not appeal to someone that enjoys sewing and gardening.  You are selling a community, a group of people that someone will interact with often.  Without elaborating more, send a group with mixed interests so that your chances of having someone that can identify with every single participant is highest.

Are you spending more time talking at these things or listening?  First listen to people, find out what they want.  Only then can you adapt to meet those needs.

Don’t get the false sense of success just by filling open positions.  If you don’t know how good the person in a role is, both from a set of skill competencies as well as behavioral competencies, you really don’t know how to measure your recruiting success.


I’m looking forward to the next postings of “The Human System.”  I plan to share a lot of information and perspective on that evil world of recruiters.  I know, just the thought makes you want to pick up some rocks and be ready to throw them.  I am going to give you the “behind the curtain” view of that entire industry and help you understand when to use recruiters, how to use recruiters, and be the one in “educated control” of headhunters.  I’ll also introduce you to the “psychic recruiter hotline”.

Choose to make it a great day!


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