Believe it or not, some people now consider going to job fairs as no longer fashionable and old school. With the internet at the fingertips, who needs to go to a job fair nowadays? All you need to do now is to prepare an updated resume and cover letter, and just go search, click, and submit. Who needs to dress up, suffer in traffic, and sometimes face bad weather, especially if it’s raining heavily, to attend a job fair, anyway? Some people now even consider job fairs as something suitable for those masses looking for blue collar jobs.
If you’re one of those who see job fairs in this light, perhaps it’s time to look at it from other angles.
Look at it from the point of view of the employer
Why do employers bother to attend job fairs anyway when they can just post online? The simplest answer is, when an employer is in a certain college or university for a job fair, it recognizes that this specific school has been proven in the past to churn out high quality graduates. The employer is hoping to snag at least one or two of those “high quality” graduates because they want to improve things with the company. And speaking of bad weather, employers know that with the bad weather, those attending the job fair are dead serious to get a job because they braved the elements just to be there. Also remember that employers attend job fairs because they have a need, and not from the goodness of their heart.
Job fairs generally aren’t very formal
If you never noticed this before then you’re a dinosaur when it comes to job fairs. Job fairs are an environment that combines job applications, job search, interviews, and general chit-chat. The environment is more relaxed because the employer is in neutral territory and not in their office. The environment is generally casual, so you and the interviewer can discuss everything as if you’re just discussing things in a restaurant.
Don’t pre-judge anything
A few years ago, during the height of the recession and mass layoffs, a counselor in a college was surprised when alumni who never attended job fairs in the past were now making an appearance. The reason? They heard from friends and other alumni that some employers attending the job fair weren’t advertising job openings online. The reason? These employers wanted to see who would go out of their way to attend the job fair. Now, from another angle, some tables may seem lonely compared to other tables. This is because these employers aren’t advertising to hire immediately but to get resumes for future hires. Don’t ignore these tables because you’ll never know sometime in the near future you suddenly might get a call that may change your career path forever.
Sometimes you go in to learn
You go in prepared, well dressed, and willing to make your pitch; by sometimes, you may end up listening, discussing, and learning from the employer. This is the hidden value in job fairs. You may not land the job now, but you learned a lot about the company and other things they’re doing. You might have learned from the interviewer that this company is supporting several non-profit organizations that may open other career paths for you.