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What is a Career Fair?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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A career fair is an event where a large number of recruiters and potential employers gather for the purpose of providing information about available positions and their companies in general. It may also be called a job fair, and it can be a great opportunity to learn about a range of possible jobs, and to get a foot in the door. For employers, a career fair is a chance to meet large numbers of potential applicants and quickly weed through them to find suitable candidates. College campuses often sponsor these events, and they may also be held as community events.

Many people believe that a career fair is a casual chance to meet potential employers and to learn more about them. While this certainly can be true, a career fair has a much more aggressive undertone. While employers are happy to provide information, they are also judging applicants who approach them, and in a sense performing miniature job interviews. People who are confident, assertive, and impressive are likely to be invited back to the potential employer for a longer conversation, while less outgoing job seekers will be ignored.

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Typically, a job fair takes the form of a series of tables which are staffed by representatives of various companies and organizations. At a general career fair, a wide range of job possibilities may be represented, from military service to scientific research. In other cases, a fair is organized with a focus, such as careers in the humanities. Each table is usually stocked with informational literature and posters, and staffers who are knowledgeable about the company. These staffers also double as recruiters, and they attend the event with a sharp eye for new blood.

It is not uncommon for job seekers to offer resumes to staffers at a career fair. They may also include personalizations on their resumes, so that the staffers can better remember them, and staffers may take notes for future reference. Business cards may be exchanged as well. Recruiters may encourage specific attendees to apply for particular job openings, or to file a general application with the company.

Usually, a company which sends representatives to a career fair has job openings. The company may also be thinking in the long term, looking for interns who could potentially develop into full employees. For job applicants, the ability to meet many employers on the same day is great, but it can also be very stressful, as each interaction should be treated like a job interview. By convention, job seekers attend career fairs in clothing which is appropriate for work, in order to put the best foot forward.

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Discuss this Article

anon291073
Post 7

In my opinion, high level job fairs or career fairs are a waste of millions of men hours and making jobless people more frustrated by asking them to send their resume to a website.

Most of the jobless, educated people know the websites and companies and what they are seeking is a job. I suggest the participating companies should have at least a recruiting staff at the company's booth to screen candidates and then for a further interview, they should be considered in the company's office.

But the current style of job fairs actually play with qualified people by asking them to visit big fairs by spending a lot on time and traveling and then simply asking them to apply to a website.

TunaLine
Post 4

College job fairs are a lot different from professional career fairs. A lot of times they try to make it fun by handing out little gifts, having gimmicks etc.

Most of the time those job fairs are more oriented in learning about a job, rather than getting a job.

zenmaster
Post 3

How likely are you to actually get a job from a career fair?

I've been attending Colorado job fairs since I want to work in Denver, but I'm getting kind of discouraged.

My friend in NY said she's getting the same feeling on the NY job fair circuit.

Is this whole thing really worth going through?

yournamehere
Post 2

I very much agree with the article's take on career fairs -- I'd like to add just a few things.

I've worked career fairs on and off for my company for years (we've do yearly job fairs in NYC, NJ, Michigan and Detroit, and we've even done the occasional Dallas/Houston job fair.)

So a few tips from my job fair experience:

First, show up dressed for the job you want. If you under-dress, we won't take you seriously, since you obviously don't take us seriously enough to dress up.

Secondly, remember that job fair workers see hundreds, if not thousands of people a day. I remember when I was working a San Diego job fair I spoke with well over 500 people, some of whom called me the next day asking if we had decided to hire them, and then got upset when I didn't remember them straight away. So cut us some slack.

You can personalize your resume a little, but don't go hog-wild -- you don't want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Finally, don't attend just one. Look around for upcoming career and job fairs in your area, and hit them all. The more lines you throw out, the more likely you are to get a bite.

Best of luck, job searchers!

sunshine31
Post 1

I want to add that when I worked in the staffing industry we often went to career fairs to recruit potential applicants to not only fill current job openings we had, but to also add more applicants to our database for potential jobs.

We received many resumes at these career fairs and often did informal interviews in order to prequalify potential applicants for future positions.

In some cases we even set up appointments to interview promising candidates right there on the spot.

The writer makes an excellent suggestion to really put your best foot forward and dress in business attire regardless of the position you are seeking, it really shows respect for the prospective employer and makes a lasting positive impression.

I have never heard of a job applicant being too dressed up for a job interview, but I have seen people that were inappropriately dressed.

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