Does swag attract talent to your job booth? Here’s some data.

Image by Katie White from Pixabay

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA

President, bSci21Media, LLC

Job seekers beware.  The best job market in 50 years came crashing down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2020 graduates are entering the “worst job market since the Great Depression.” But economists expect job demand to bounce back quickly after the virus is contained.

And when it does bounce back, how will you as a potential employer take advantage of this opportunity to snatch up quality talent?

A team of researchers at Easterseals Southern California & Western Michigan University sought to gather some data toward this end, which was published in a 2020 issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management.  The team set up recruiting booths at two professional conferences and a university career fair, looking to attract hires to a company providing  services to individuals with various developmental disabilities.

They asked a very simple question: How do free giveaways (“swag”) affect inquiries at a job booth?  Swag items varied slightly across settings but included tote bags, pens, highlighters, hand sanitizer on key chains, oranges, and assorted candy.

The team alternated between two simple conditions – the giveaway condition (where swag was available on the table) and the no giveaway condition (no swag).

The team found that swag increased conversations with people at the booth from 12.4 per hour (no swag) to 23.7 per hour (swag).  But when they looked at how often people left their email address on a sign up sheet to followup with job opportunities, results were statistically insignificant and occurred at low rates across events and conditions.

The team noticed, however, that email addresses were given near the beginning of the events, which may suggest they were more serious job seekers and not simply seeking out free swag.  Thus, they conclude that you may not want to waste your money on swag if you are seeking out serious job seekers.

Unfortunately, confidentiality issues rendered data on actual hiring outcomes unavailable.

More more information on the study, you can find the article via Taylor and Francis.

How do these results correspond to your experiences running job booths?  Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition.  He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

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