Once upon a time, going to a career fair was about getting in front of a human resources representative and delivering a ‘elevator speech’ about one’s skills and experience. This sales pitch ended with a resume being offered and the effort just didn’t seem to be complete if the recruiter did not accept it. On the company side, career fairs presented an opportunity to cast a recruitment net, take a sneak peek at candidates, ask a few basic questions to gauge if they could fit into the work environment and make meaningful contributions.
Those days are long gone.
Web-based job boards changed the face of career fairs. Instead of spending time developing a focused recruitment effect to fill current vacancies, the company job board allows recruiters to spend more time focusing on the ‘employer of choice’ business care to share with candidates while referring them to list of current vacancies that they might find interesting.
There are a few obvious benefits of this approach to exhibiting at career fairs. The first is doing away with the need to process paper resumes after returning to the office. the second is that it offers increased flexibility in staffing the exhibit table by doing away with the need to have the recruiters responsible for those vacancies to be represent. Finally, asking job seekers to apply online ensures that they identify the roles of choice rather than expecting the recruiter to determine where they fit in.
The benefits doesn’t translate to the job seeker side. Leaving an exhibit booth without submitting a resume makes the engagement feel incomplete. The job seeker doesn’t have closure that one expects from attending career fairs because the job search hasn’t taken a step forward.
Seeing that company job boards will not go away, job seekers now need to approach career fairs differently. They should use career fairs more as information collecting exercises, than attending with submitting applications as the primary goal. Instead of packing resumes, they come to career fairs with a collection of questions that will help them learn more about the jobs they are interested in, the compensation, the company and the hiring process. This information will help them decide if the company is one that they would fit in well, as well as, helping them submit applications that are stronger than what can be done through an elevator speech.