April and May are job fair season in South Louisiana. There are a number of job fairs to choose from each week. But, job searcher beware, not all job fairs are created equal. If you don’t do your research ahead of time you might well waste your time and return frustrated. Different job fairs work for different job searchers. Here is an overview of the different kinds of job fairs and who will benefit most:
College Career Fairs
These job fairs are organized by colleges mainly for their students and alumni, but sometimes they are open to the general public as well. Colleges put on general job fairs, which include a wide selection of employers and professions. Before you go and attend a general job fair, find out which employers will be present and if they are interesting to you! In addition to the general job fairs, colleges often organize fairs specific to certain professions: e.g. health care careers, engineering, media, or skilled trades. These are preferable to the general fairs since you know each employer present has an interest in hiring candidates from your field.
In general the employers present at college career fairs are mainly interested in entry-level and recent graduate candidates. Though alumni are usually invited as well, there will be fewer opportunities for mid-career candidates. However, talking to a live human recruiter or hiring manager is always preferable to just applying online. So the chance to talk to hiring managers directly, learn information about the company and making connections might make it worthwhile for mid-career professionals to attend.
General Public Job Fairs
These are often organized by local non-profit organizations, media outlets or workforce centers. They are unfocused and represent a wide variety of employers and fields. Often the majority of employers present at these general fairs are from companies or fields with high turnover jobs who need new employees frequently. These occupations are often found at the lower paying level of the world of work. If you need a job fast and are not picky, these job fairs might work for you. If you are an experienced professional, do your research and find out beforehand which employers will be present to see if it is worth your while to attend.
A drawback that college and general job fairs have in common is that some of the companies present are not really actively hiring. Sometimes they attend more for the public relations value. They want to be seen as thriving companies that are attractive to potential employees. Yes, they will still take your resume at the job fair but it will not lead to anything.
Single Employer Job Fairs
These are the best job fairs. As the name suggests, this is a job fair for/with just one employer who is normally looking to fill a number of different positions. These are the best job fairs because the companies conducting them are in need and actively looking for people. They are usually very organized and ready to interview and process applicants on the spot. This means that there is very little time between the job fair and starting a new position. Single employer job fairs are conducted by companies in all fields, from high tech and IT, to warehouse, healthcare and hospitality.
The career center can help!
The best way to find out about any kind of job fair in your area is social media. Follow any company you are interested in on social media. They will normally announce their job fair participation on their different accounts. Also follow your school’s career center social media as well as your local workforce or unemployment center, Dept. of Labor and public library. For the Greater Baton Rouge area the Career Center at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is your one stop shop. We post all upcoming job fairs on our social media, we frequently host them, and we help you prepare for an impeccable job fair performance with our Job Fair Success seminars, like this one.
Written by Anne Nowak