Career Fairs: The Pros And Cons

career fair, job search, networking, strategy

So you say you’re thinking of going to a career fair.  Is that really a good idea?

Well, if you are smart job seeker, you are thinking about each and every networking event where you can display your brand and potentially meet new people.  Some who might be able to help you.

But if you are thinking critically.  And you should.  You should also be thinking about whether a career fair is an efficient use of your time.  If the right employers will be there.  And if there’s a chance in (you know where) that those companies will have a job opening that will fit with your job search objectives.

Because let’s face it.  A lot of job fairs are poorly attended.  By job seekers and employers.

But I’m not here to disparage career fairs.  Simply to provide an objective view.  So you can decide for yourself.

If you’ve been to a great career fair, tell us about it!  If you organize them in your local area, tell us why yours is valuable.

The Pros

  • Another reason to get out of the house and get social.  Far too many job seekers network too much by e-mail and phone.
  • You will learn about employers in your area – some of which you may not have considered before.
  • You can meet representatives from those employers.  And you can give your elevator pitch in person instead of hoping your resume sells you on its own.
  • You will meet other job seekers who may be looking for jobs in similar industries.  Lead sharing only happens when you connect with others and a job fair can be another place to do this.
  • Job fairs are a lead generation and interview driver by definition.  And in order keep an active interview schedule, you need to keep stirring up the water.
  • Job fairs will often be combined with other events.  A speaker schedule or a seminar series.  If you are looking for a few new ideas, these can be helpful.

The Cons

  • The companies in attendance are often not the cream of the crop.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that companies will commit personnel to attend the fair, but they need to be quality target companies.
  • The job types and salary structures offered by the companies may not satisfy your search or financial objectives.  Many fairs attract commission-only jobs or temporary jobs.  These are not the jobs that most are looking for when in transition.
  • Standing in line really stinks.  A few career shows ago, I saw lines of 10-15 people waiting to talk to a company representative.  And if you are looking for work, standing in line makes you feel less than whole.  And rather unproductive.
  • There may not be any jobs open with the companies in attendance.  All that work and no chance for a hire.  Of course, companies are “always looking for good people”.  But that doesn’t help if you need a job now.
  • It’s hard to stand out in a crowd.  And it is hard to be memorable when a single company rep is meeting over 100 people.
  • The company rep may not be highly engaged.  And the job they do is not easy.  Think about it.  It can be very tiring and emotionally draining.  Hearing all the tough stories and often being subjected to rants of frustration (i.e. why hasn’t your company called me back?).

So there you have it.  My take on the career fair.  I have two more posts planned on this topic.  They are:

  1. How To Choose A Career Fair
  2. How To Prepare For And Successfully Navigate A Career Fair

Which one should I write? Also let me know if you have another issue regarding career fairs you’d like to hear about.

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