February 24, 2016
There is a lot of debate on whether or not career fairs are worth attending.
Many job seekers and employers view career fairs as a thing of the past, a waste of time and gas, and an unrealistic way to find a job as you fight hundreds of others looking to do the same.
But we’re here to tell you—career fairs are not dead.
That’s right. You heard us.
Career fairs are still around and they are can be more beneficial than ever. The most interesting and highly sought after companies still go to career fairs. And you should too.
But, before we tell you why career fairs and networking events are still worth attending, let us warn you. You get out what you put in.
Do your research ahead of time and see who will be attending. Come prepared with your resume and cover letter, elevator speech, and a lot of coffee. Have a game plan and direction of what you want to accomplish from the day.
End of side. That post will be for another day.
In a culture that is increasingly driven by online interactions, career fairs are a chance to break the mold and get out from behind the computer. This may be tough to hear, but interacting with real-life humans and employers outside of your computer screen is good for your job search, and here’s why.
You Are No Longer a Piece of Paper
When I was rounding third base my senior year of college and diving into the scary world of job hunting, I found myself applying to jobs online. I would hit “submit” to an application and wish, “If only I could deliver this in person.”
I knew that when I hit “submit” my resume and cover letter would be sent through the internet to the company I was applying for. It would then be quickly scanned for keywords, and most likely end up in a pile of other resume and cover letters.
To them, I was just a piece of paper. But I felt what I could offer a company was more than what I could distill down into words that fit on one page.
Everyone at this point had a resume that stood out from the crowd. That is Resume Building 101 these days. No matter what I did to differentiate my resume, I was still just a piece of paper.
Career fairs are an opportunity for you to deliver your resume in person and nail the elevator pitch we discussed last week. It’s a chance to have a face-to-face conversation and let your personality shine through.
You are no longer a piece of paper. You are a face that left an impression with them.
A contributor from The Schwan Food Company says, "Personality and how you interact with others is very important. Often times, creating good rapport with an interviewer will help you overcome missing skill-sets that might be needed for a role. You can train employees how to perform a job, but it’s a lot harder to change someone’s behaviors."
Career fairs are a breeding ground for networking. Everyone is there because they are either interested in obtaining a job or finding someone to fill a void in their company. This is a perfect storm for networking.
While networking with potential employers is top of mind, don’t overlook the opportunity to network with other attendees. Making connections with anyone and everyone will only help your career and build your contact list.
“Networking is important in the career search and attending career fairs is one way to begin to establish your network!” Laura, and Accenture campus recruiter says.
They Want You
A lot of time can be wasted chasing dream companies that aren’t actually hiring. While sending your resume to a company that isn’t hiring is not a bad thing to do, it can leave you feeling burned out.
The good news is that companies are going to career fairs because they are looking for you. You can be confident they are hiring, or will be hiring in the next few months.
Nowhere else can you go to a (very large) room where hundreds of employers are not only waiting to talk to you, but want to talk to you about your skill set.
If you are still in college or graduate school and don’t have much of a skill set to talk about, don’t be discouraged. They are still interested in you, too! A recruiter from Gap says, "Recruiters want to see energy, optimism, and potential. We know that you may not have a depth of skills yet, so communicate your desire to apply what you’ve learned in school or college in a meaningful way."
It’s Free Coaching
A lot of career fairs offer a booth or table with trained professionals that will take a look at your resume. Why pay for this service when you can get it for free?
If the career fair doesn’t offer this service, you can always ask employers at the event for feedback. While it’s not their first priority and you should use your judgment before you ask someone to review your resume, more often than not HR managers at the event would love to give you some quick feedback. They are all experts at hiring and people love to be asked their opinion.
Take advantage of this! Your eagerness to learn may even draw their attention and lead to a longer conversation!
It’s Never Too Early To Start Attending
Although it may seem unnatural and intimating to attend a career fair as a college freshman, many jobipedia.org experts recommend it. The job market is competitive for college graduates. Attending a career fair is a good way to make connections with future employers, practice talking to employers and begin to learn what you can expect in the upcoming years.
Chris, a Hiring Expert from The Schwan Food Company says, “I would recommend at least attending your school's career fairs as early as freshman year. This will benefit you, by helping you understand how career fairs function. It will give you insight as to what companies are hiring, and will remove a lot of the ‘unknown.’ Doing this will even help you discover what you what to do for a career. It's never too early to start networking.”