We recently took part in a large job fair held by WorkBC and Kopar in Prince George, BC. It was a fairly busy event; there were many employers, plenty of resources, and of course, lots of curious people-both job-seekers and potential job-seekers. Job fairs have their main benefit which is found right in the title: a place to find employers and hopefully land a job. In fact, if we are looking at the pyramid of how people look for work, job fairs are about in the top middle in terms of how people and employers find each other. But there are many other benefits to job fairs that go beyond getting hired.
It’s not what you know; it’s who you know, as the saying goes. Job fairs give you a great opportunity to network with plenty of people all conveniently in one place and there specifically to network with you! Try getting that any other way; I dare you. It’s also a good way to network with training schools, training programs, and even programs geared towards helping you set up your own business or further your business. In other words, in terms of networking, job fairs are a Big Deal. Plus, you can often get swag and that alone can make it worth the trip, depending on what’s on tap.
If you’re going to go into the job fair with an eye towards networking, be prepared. Make sure you are ready to collect business cards, give out your contact information, and be ready with an elevator speech about yourself and what you are looking to do. Make sure that the elevator pitch is warm and friendly without being pushy or desperate. People are at job fairs to talk, so make sure you are ready for that!
- Interviews of the Informational Variety
Most people go into a job fair expecting to be interviewed, and that’s fine as far as it goes. However, you may also be looking at your opportunities backwards; it’s as much an opportunity for you to interview employers as it is the other way around.
A job fair is there specifically to help people learn more about the employers, what sort of work is out there and how best to land it. Most people who go to job fairs have the pitch that it will help them get employed and that’s true enough, but the best way to get employed is to ensure that you will be a good fit wherever you go and that means you have to know what it is about the business that will work for you. In other words, you have to ask as many questions as you get. Job fairs are an ideal opportunity to do this as you can engage in conversations more easily and with less pressure: after all, you’re not in the hiring manager’s office, you’re just having a conversation wherever the fair happens to be being held. Therefore, be prepared to not only answer questions, but to ask them as well.
- Learn about Community Resources
Job fairs by and large attract employers, but they also attract community resources such as schools, training programs, entrepreneur workshops and other resources. We have had everything from training to community based phone systems show up at job fairs which were wonderful to know about as many people aren’t aware of the resources to help them get work right in their community. If you’re struggling to get employed, it might be time to take a step back and see what you need in order to get ahead and then go to job fairs to learn about other programs to help you succeed.
Even if you are already employed, job fairs are still worth visiting if you are able to swing by. You might be amazed at what you can learn about your community, about trends in the job market, and about training opportunities for yourself or your coworkers. And if you aren’t employed, then job fairs are a true goldmine of information and opportunity. Make sure you go in prepared with questions about the businesses you want to visit, contact information, and a warm smile on your face, and then be prepared to get all kinds of information-and maybe even a job offer or three! Check out the next job fair you come across and see how it can benefit you.
Charlene Mattson is an instructor and author. You can read her books by purchasing them through Kellan Publishing or come visit us as CVTC and see if she has any!