Education Career Services

March 2, 2009

Job Fair Realism

Sorry for being a tad late this morning but had a little fender bender along the way to work.  Needless to say, all is well and my back bumper is the only thing needing replacment.  While waiting for the accident report, I listened to NPR (National Public Radio) and a discussion regarding job fairs.


According to the radio, job fair attendance has been increasing dramatically over the past few years.  As a matter of fact, there was a recent job fair in New York that attracted 5,000 individuals looking for a job.  One in South Carolina doubled it’s attendance to 1,000 from last year’s as well.  Interesting enough, the one in South Carolina was offering 18 part time (and relatively lower paying) positions.  Upon further review, it became apparent that job fairs are a great place to hone in on your job searching skills but can not, and should not, be a primary source.


According to NPR, there is a low success rate during job fairs and for those receiving job offers, they typically tend to be short term and with a lower salary.  With the odds so wide against success, what does one do to stand out amongst such a crowd?


Common Sense:

  • Have plenty of hard copy resumes, cover letters, and networking cards
  • Have a well-prepared elevator speech, highlighting what you offer to a prospective company (in other words, how will you bring in money or decrease costs)
  • Appearance is important (I have been to many job fairs and couldn’t help but note how poorly dressed the vast majority were)
  • Possess realistic expectation and take advantage of the networking system (meet, greet, and exchange information with fellow professionals and students—one never knows what tomorrow may bring)
  • Do not become frustrated or overwhelmed due to the mass of job seekers

Let’s be realistic, job fairs are successful for many but given today’s highly competitive employment arena, there is a lower success rate than previous years.  I encourage all students to attend as many job fairs as humanly possible.  Professionals with a vast amount of experience may find greater success at job fairs specific to their industry. 


While a professor and dean of academic affairs, I personally witnessed many students attain lucrative offers due to job fairs—they are out there!  Follow the common sense bullets above and never stop believing in yourself and the contributions you will bring to your next employer.


If you have a specific job fair story you would like to share to our group, feel free to submit as a comment or email directly to me.


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

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