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Do career fairs work? Part 1

Helping students and recent grads find jobs and connecting them with top employers and educators is something we’re passionate about.

And one of the most traditional ways to connect with employers is the job fair. They can be a great way to network and meet future employers, but depending on what you’re looking for, they also have the potential to be a waste of time. Here’s what I found after attending a career fair while I was at university:

Lots of employers, very few jobs

A big job fair can have hundreds of companies in attendance. That sounds great, right? But how many of them are actually hiring, or hiring for more than one very specific role? You’d think that since a company is attending a job fair attended by thousands of job seekers, they would actually be trying to hire a lot of people. However, I found that many of the companies that were present at the job fairs that I attended, attended because they agreed to months before or because they simply wanted to build up a database of resumés to consult for future opportunities.

So remember, just because a company is attending, it doesn’t mean that they are actually hiring. Your best bet is to check out the websites of companies you’re interested in to find what openings they actually have. And while you’re on their site, why not just apply then? You can then use your on campus job fairs to meet actual representatives from the company and either get a deeper feel for the organization, or maybe even discuss your application.

A great networking opportunity?

A major argument for job fairs is that they are a great networking opportunity and a way to make face-to-face contact with recruiters. There is definitely some merit to this point. However, this argument is given too much weight. In my experience, the job fairs I attended were often packed, which meant that I had to wait in line to meet a recruiter. When I finally did, I had no more than 30 seconds to make an impression. Even if the recruiter remembered me, I wasn’t confident that they’d be able to put my face to my resumé.

A lost opportunity

Job fairs were a pretty inefficient use of time for me, especially with that little thing we have these days called the Internet. All that time I spent manoeuvring through crowds to get to an employer, then waiting in line to have my 30 second conversation, could probably have been spent better elsewhere. Like going online and applying directly to an organization’s job openings.

So, do job fairs work? Well, yes, people have been hired by attending. And while for me, they weren’t the best way to get a job, they can be a good way to see who is hiring and make connections.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Written by

Nathaniel Rottenberg
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Categories: Students/Grads