Seven Job Fair Myths

Posted by Rob Riggins

Job Fair UnicornWe’ve been producing job fairs for over ten years. During that time we’ve seen several poor job search strategies or concepts embraced by job seekers. So we’re here to set the record straight about some of the most common misconceptions that job seekers have about job fairs:

1. Only Talk to the Employers

Well yes, you are at a job fair to talk to the recruiters and hiring managers in attendance. But you should talk to the other job seekers as well.

Think of a job fair as a networking event…because that’s what it really is. You’re there to make face-to-face connections and gather information to move your job search forward. Depending on your skill set and the employers’ needs that could certainly mean a job offer. Use this opportunity to gather as much info as you can, from both employers and job seekers.

When you’re standing in line to talk to a company, talk to the job seekers around you. If you’re getting a drink or some food, talk to the job seekers around you. If you’re attending a career seminar or a resume review, chat with the folks around you. Other job seekers can be a great source of information about companies, positions, strategies and more. For instance, they may have worked for an employer on your target list, and might have valuable info that could help your search.

2. Focus Solely on Your Target Companies

Talk to every employer in the room if you have time. By avoiding certain employers you’re essentially saying “no” for them. Give yourself a chance! distributes a Job Seeker Handbook for each job fair. This handbook details the companies attending the job fair and some of the positions those employers are seeking to fill. However, it’s not a definitive list of all the employers’ job openings. The job market is dynamic and needs change daily. A new job requisition for which you are perfectly suited may land on the recruiter’s desk the day after the job fair.

Recruiters are in sales and they do move around from company to company. The recruiter you’re speaking to with Company X may be working at Company Y next week. You may not be a good fit at Company X, but a perfect fit at Company Y. Don’t say no to opportunity. Network with as many employers and job seekers as you can.

3. Transitioning Military Only Attend When You Are 45-60 Days from Terminal Leave

Re-read Number 1 and really take to heart that it’s never too early to start networking. That’s why we recommend transitioning military start attending job fairs about a year before their terminal leave date. You’ll get a variety of responses from recruiters, but if you talk to a recruiter who says, “Talk to me when you’re 45 days out,” thank them and move to the next company.

At a recent hiring event I talked to a service member who was a year out from his transition to the civilian sector. He had never attended a job fair before, didn’t have a resume, and was just trying to see what a job fair is all about. That’s actually a good strategy to prepare for the future and get the lay of the land.

About an hour after he came out of the job fair, the service member checked back with me to say that he had two companies that wanted to hire him as soon as he was available. He had very specific skills that were in high demand, so these results will not happen for everyone. It does demonstrate that it’s never too early to start building your network. Attending a Job Fair six or even twelve months before you transition is an effective, proactive strategy.

4. A Resume Isn’t Necessary

You do need a resume. You are at a distinct disadvantage without a resume unless you’re that very unique cyber security professional with skills that are in incredibly high demand.

A better strategy is to bring multiple copies of your resume. It’s much faster for a recruiter or hiring manager to scan your resume than to quiz you to get the same information — or to depend on your elevator pitch being so perfect that it tells them all they need to know. Make a good first impression and be a prepared professional by bringing many copies of your resume to all hiring events. A bonus is if you bring your resume you can take advantage of the free resume review service offered at all our job fairs.

5. Nobody Gets a Job

We’ve surveyed the companies that attend our job fairs. Wildly unscientific, but we estimate 6-7% of the job seekers attending our Job Fairs receive an offer.

Depending on the employers’ needs, they also do make on-the-spot offers too. For the majority of job seekers, an on-the-spot offer is not going to happen. It all depends on your skills, the competition, and the needs of the employers. But attending a job fair and meeting recruiters, hiring managers and other job seekers is a positive first step toward getting an offer.

6. I Applied for the Job Online so I Don’t Need to Attend

Reinforcing your online application by speaking to the company’s recruiters or hiring managers lets you make a face-to-face connection and reinforce your interest. You may also find information on other positions with the same company that you might not have known about. And you have the chance to talk to other employers at the job fair about additional opportunities. That brings up another point. Don’t put your job search on hold waiting for that one perfect job offer. Continue to pursue multiple options and paths to success.

7. It’s All About Qualifications

Not entirely. Your attitude is really important as well. As one recruiter recently shared with me, “When I meet a job seeker at a job fair or in an interview, this is the job seeker at their absolute best. It’s their peak performance. If they’re cranky, rude, short or disinterested, what does that tell me about how they will perform on the job?”

It’s not a popularity contest, but most positions require that you interact with others, work on a team, advocate your case, etc. No woman – or man – is an island. Show prospective employers that you are a positive, team player.

If you steer clear of these seven common misconceptions, you’ll greatly improve your odds of having a successful hiring event experience. Check out our future job fairs here.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:20 pm

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