Job fairs and career expos are increasingly becoming great avenues for job seekers. Initially they were a preserve of graduate candidates looking for entry level jobs but gradually they are now attracting the attention of experienced employees seeking greener pastures as mid-level staff.
Many organizations participate in job fairs to maximize their recruiting efforts and minimize on costs that would have otherwise been incurred by advertising open job positions. Others attend job fairs simply to spread the word about their organization to the job seekers. Still others are there with the sole intent of hiring new employees right away.
Regardless of why an employer is attending a job fair, the benefits that a prospective job seeker would get by attending the same cannot be over emphasized. This year, as a job seeker, it is important to plan before hand to attend a career expo where you will benefit from the following:
1. Career exploration and industry exposure
Most of us desire to get our first jobs or new jobs in certain industries though we have little info about them. By attending a job fair, you will have the opportunity to engage with experts in organizations operating in different industries who will shed more light on things like;
- Professional qualification requirements,
- Possible career tracks within particular industries;
- Employment opportunities within particular companies and industries;
- Potential training, internship, mentorship or job-shadowing opportunities; and,
- Job search tools and resources available within local employment service providers.
This kind of information is critical in helping you make an informed decision on whether you will still want to work in that particular industry or not. You will be better placed and informed on how fast you could grow while navigating and facing the unique challenges within the career path of your choice when the opportunity comes your way.
Remember that individuals who make well informed decisions on where and for whom they work are happier in their jobs than those who simply take any available job. It is a reward that will come your way if you attend a career fair.
2. Networking opportunities
Considered one of the biggest benefits of attending a career expo. You will get the opportunity to engage and connect with new people (both job seekers and employers) in a variety of situations. Whether it’s at the registration table, while having coffee or tea, exploring the exhibition stands, sitting with people in a workshop, or just cruising around the fair, a job fair will offer a unique opportunity to expand your network both personally and professionally.
3. Instant employment opportunity
Remember some of the organizations showcase themselves at the job fair with the goal of attracting talent there and then. If this happens then it could be a wonderful opportunity to put in your application which will be scrutinized real-time and feedback for an interview invite given there and then. Interestingly some organizations will even have an interview booth and conduct the interview right there.
So as you plan to attend a job fair, make sure you have your application details in order and carry them with you. Also prepare yourself for an impromptu interview onsite. Watch out your dressing as you attend the job fair.
The expo could bring to an abrupt halt your long job hunting mission.
4. Sharpen job search skills
A career fair is a non-threatening event or environment and when you attend one you will get the opportunity to engage in a conversation with the available employers. This interaction will give you a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience in essential job search skills which include:
- Presenting yourself in a professional manner;
- Introducing yourself with calm and confidence;
- Effectively responding to interview questions;
- Asking good questions in a clear and concise manner;
- Initiating conversation with comfort and ease;
- Developing good listening skills;
- Gaining a comfort level in networking.
- Gathering job market information; and,
- Following up on job leads or other opportunities to engage with employers.
5. ‘’Face time’’ opportunity with employers
When it comes to job search, “face time” is very important. That opportunity that you get to have a face to face interaction with potential employers creates a very powerful and important impression. Through a job fair, you will get the opportunity to interact, verbally engage and give out your application details to the employers with the confidence that it will land in safe hands.
The face time created leaves a powerful impression in the mind of the employer especially when contemplating on future recruitment. Similarly it is more calming to be called for an interview where you will interact with a person you met before than meeting a total stranger.
Use the job fair to put your face on to the resume which would otherwise have easily landed in the HR office dustbin.
Use the fair to reach out to various stands and professionally engage with the employers there. Ask relevant questions and present a professional you. Give out your updated job search documents and ask to be considered in case of an opportunity.
I can recall the number of times I have gotten instructions from my boss asking if I could peruse the CV and consider for an intern role or invite for an interview “that gentleman/lady” who came to our stand and engaged us during the career fair day”.
They (gentleman or lady) left a positive impression in my boss’ mind during their “face time”
6. Belong to a community
Job search can be a tough exercise and sometimes it creates a sense of loneliness and defeat. You could easily give up after a long and unfruitful job hunting mission. Sometime all you need in life to restore your confidence and motivation is interacting with a community of determined individuals walking the same path like you do.
By attending a job fair you will get this opportunity to refuel your depleted tank by spending a day engaging with your peers who have a variety of skills, interests and disabilities, and with professionals from a variety of industries and positions. Such an experience can re-build your confidence, renew a sense of belonging, and inspire hope as you engage with people who have achieved their vocational goals and/or are in pursuit of them!
As you work out your annual career resolutions, make certain to have a plan to actively attend a career and job expo whenever one is in the horizon. It could be all you need to get that much need career breakthrough.