Ways to Optimize the Job Fair Experience

Industry job fairs can serve an array of purposes for breweries and job seekers alike — and not all of them have to do with finding entry-level, front-of-house workers or extra production hands.

Brewer Magazine caught up with brewery representatives who were managing booths at a recent Texas Craft Brewers Guild job fair at Meanwhile Brewing in Austin, Texas who offered tips for both job seekers as well as a couple of tips for hiring managers.

While many job fairs are looking for entry-level front-of-house employees, Holdout Brewing General Manager Sheila Garcia said people interested in working at a brewery might be surprised at the types of positions that breweries and allied trade members may be looking to hire.

“Part of it is showcasing that we have positions that aren’t just bartending,” Garcia said. “There’s payroll, accounting and graphic design, and we have a full kitchen so we’re hiring for a baker right now, which you wouldn’t normally have at a brewery. You might have someone who says ‘Hey, I’m a baker and I’d love to be baking at a brewery and working in that industry,’ so I’m here showcasing that.”

You can’t hire everyone that comes through, but having a booth is still a good opportunity for visibility for your brand. The same is true for people who are there looking for jobs, too, Garcia said.

“So many people are coming by who are excited about craft beer,” Garcia said. “So even if we can’t hire them, we’re hopefully still connecting with fans and supporters. And if I can’t hire them, hopefully some of our friends in the industry can.

“If you’re looking for a job, just remember to bring your brand with you. You can literally walk around and see what everyone’s brand identity is. Talk to everyone even if you’re not interested in the job they’re offering because you can always follow up with them later in email.”

Meanwhile Brewing naturally had a booth at its own event. An advantage of hosting was being able to offer a tour and allow people to see the space and get a feel for it.

Area sales representative Jay Gonzales was tasked with visiting with potential applicants at the brewery’s table located in its courtyard.

“The biggest obstacle people might have is getting discouraged that they don’t have prior brewery experience, and they shouldn’t be discouraged by that,” he said. “[For sales and front of house positions] customer service is one of our biggest goals. So anything hospitality-oriented, like restaurants, bars and hotels would be a fit [for job experience].” 

Jody Vance, Operations Director at Twisted X Brewing in Dripping Springs, Texas, agreed with Gonzales’ assertion about brewery experience not being part of the toolkit applicants need to have when approaching a job fair booth with confidence.

“At the end of the day, I want someone who is going to show up for their shift and is eager to learn,” Vance said. “And we want someone who is going to want to grow with the company and move into other opportunities as we grow. A jack of all trades is a nice person to have at a brewery.”

He urged hiring managers to have an open mind.

“You have to be open to different backgrounds,” he said. “Especially when you’re filling entry level roles in packaging in the back of the house or in the front of the house. You’re just looking for people who are a good fit for your organization. They don’t necessarily need to have worked in a brewery, but they need to demonstrate to me that they love craft beer.

“There are no specialty hats at craft breweries. We’re all looking for someone who fits our organizational structure and is willing to work and learn new things.”

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