What Are Career Fairs?

Career fairs are networking events for employers looking for job candidates and individuals seeking employment. Read on to find out more about the different types of fairs and how job seekers can make the most of the experience.

What Is a Career Fair?

Career fairs, or job fairs, are events where employers set up displays and interact with potential employees. A career fair format allows employers to advertise available positions and accept resumes from job and internship candidates. They also enable companies to pre-screen candidates and only follow up on those deemed most likely to meet the needs of the organization.

Important Facts About Career Fairs

Hosts High schools
Colleges and universities
Professional organizations
Formats Multi-industry fair
Industry-specific fair
Online Availability Virtual career fairs are available
Target Audience High school students
College students
Unemployed individuals
Working professionals looking to change, redirect, or advance their careers
Skills for SuccessNetworking, communication, professionalism, preparedness

College Campus Career Fairs

On college campuses, the career services department usually organizes the career fair. The employers and recruiters staff tables or booths where individuals can seek information or meet potential employers. The college campus location is common in the spring months as prospective graduates look for future employment opportunities, though many schools may hold a fall fair as well. Some schools may also hold major-specific fairs, such as those for engineers, teachers or people looking to work for the government.

Professional Organization-Sponsored Fairs

Professional organizations generally host career fairs for individuals looking for work in specific fields. They may also host career fairs aimed at specific demographic sectors, such as women or minorities. There are also organizations that hold career fairs for other kinds of groups, like veterans.

Using Career Fairs for Career Planning

For an individual who hasn't yet decided on a career path, a career fair can be a good way to gather information about employment prospects. If a career change is required due to changing interests or job loss, a career fair can help individuals decide on a new career path. Some career fairs offer free interest- and job-related personality testing to help the individual explore career options. These may be available before or during the fair.

Preparing for a Career Fair

Before the career fair, it can help to go through a list of the employers that will be present to make a list of which companies you would like to visit. You can also come up with a list of questions that you want to ask each representative, since an engaging conversation may be more memorable for an employer than a name on a resume. Still, you should make sure you have plenty of copies of your resume available so you can easily hand a copy to anyone who asks for one. It is also generally expected that potential employees dress in interview attire in order to make a good first impression.

After the Career Fair

If there are particular employers that you are very interested in working for, it may help to send them a follow-up email. In this email, you can thank them for their time, remind them of your conversation, and express your sincere interest in working for the company.

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