5 Job Fair Considerations

Job fairs are a great way to find work. In fact, some companies hire only through job fairs. So if you have your heart set on working for a particular organization, it would be smart to find out exactly how any company in which you’re interested hires its employees.

But are all job fairs created equally? Turns out (like any thing else) not so much. But even ones that cater to a circus mentality can still offer good results if you know what to expect when you go in. Ironically the people who have the least success with job fairs are the ones with too many expectations. No matter how well a job fair is organized it’s still going to feel a little bit like speed dating. Therefore be prepared to deal with these five job fair considerations, some of which you may find irritating – but less so if you know they’re coming.

  1. Trade Show Mentality
  2. Okay, let’s face it. A job fair is basically a trade show that brings employers and employees together. That means you’re probably not going to get the warm and fuzzy chat you’d have if you were invited to the Microsoft head office in Seattle for a nice interview lunch. The point of a job fair is to get your resume to (and if you’re lucky a five-minute interview with) someone at a participating company who actually makes decisions. So just like at any tradeshow a job fair is going to be noisy, crowded, hot, and a little impersonal. Don’t go expecting everyone is just dying to meet you. Be professional, but also be realistic. You probably won’t get hired directly from a job fair. But if you get a real interview out of it, you’re doing great.

  3. Companies “Just Browsing”
  4. Often companies send representatives to job fairs just to test the current market (for example, to see what’s available in terms of workforce for future growth), but they have no intentions of hiring anyone at this time. Or they just want to keep their name out there for mindshare purposes. This is unfortunate for you, if you happen to be looking for a job, because you don’t want to waste your time or resume on a company that won’t hire you any time soon.

    That’s why it’s always best to do your research first. Find out how many employees your target companies actually hire out of job fairs. Sometimes the job fair provides this information, or you can always call the Human Resources departments of your target companies and ask. They may decline to tell you, but then it’s up to you to decide if you still want to pursue them.

  5. Too Many Internships
  6. Along the same lines some companies hire only unpaid interns or entry-level employees out of job fairs (unless they specifically say otherwise). This isn’t so bad if you’ve just graduated from college and you were expecting to start with an entry-level position, but unpaid internships are risky. Unless you have a contract that ensures you of paid employment after a short internship, it’s probably not worth your time to work indefinitely as an unpaid intern.

  7. Competition
  8. Keep in mind that job fairs make their money by getting lots of people to attend. Therefore participating companies will be inundated with hundreds (maybe thousands) of resumes. That’s a lot of competition for you. Know that it will take some time before anyone gets back to you about an interview, and if they choose to pass you may not hear back from them at all.

    To help keep your resume in the running, always follow-up any job fair meeting with a thank-you note or email. In the correspondence address the person you spoke with by name and remind them of your conversation. Thank them for your time and let them know that you’re available for an interview upon request.

  9. Expensive
  10. Job fairs cost money to put on and quite often both the companies and job seekers have to pay entry fees. (Some, however, are free to job seekers, especially college job fairs.) Typically, the more lucrative the jobs are at a job fair, the higher the entry fees. For example, job fairs for middle management and executives have higher entry fees than job fairs that cater to entry-level positions. Regardless, if you’re out of work a job fair entry fee is just one more expense on a tight budget. Plus, the cost bringing a stack of resumes to a job fair adds up as well. For that reason, always prequalify any job fair to make sure it has potential.

    Job fairs are one of many ways to network and find employment, however, they are a unique form of job-hunting. Don’t be disappointed if it takes weeks or even months to hear back from a prospective employer you met at a job fair. In the mean time keep looking. If you’ve already found a job by the time your job fair contact calls, you can politely decline (because you already found a good job) or schedule an interview. THOSE are the phone calls we all love getting!

Have you been to a job fair lately? Did you talk up the recruiters? Did you get lots of cool swag? Tell us in the comments below!

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