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Are Job Fairs a Good Use of Your Job Search Time?

When you’re out of work, you suddenly find many friends and family who are willing to share their ideas with you about how to get a job.  In their attempts to be helpful, people who care about you will often pass on every single tip or nugget they hear about a job opportunity—leaving it up to you to sift through the information in order to find something you can actually use.

In many areas of the U.S., the issue is not a lack of available jobs, but a lack of time for you as the job seeker to complete a thorough application for each position that interests you.  Therefore, you have to be strategic in how you use your time during your job search.  Job fairs, in particular, can be a waste of time if you don’t do your homework before you decide to attend.

There are two important questions to ask any time you see a job fair being held in your area:

1)     Do any of the companies at this job fair pay people to do what I do?

If your role at your company is something like IT or accounting that’s transferable to a lot of different settings, then chances are high that you‘ll find a company at the job fair that could use your services.  However, the more specialized your skill set, the more cautious you need to be about where you spend your time looking.

2)     Are the companies at the job fair actually hiring?

You may not be able to figure this out on your own with 100% certainty.  However, looking at the employment opportunities on the companies’ Web sites can give you an idea of whether they actually have open positions.  This is an election year, and many local politicians are hosting job fairs in order to show their constituents that they care about the economy.  However, just because a company shows up doesn’t mean they’re hiring—or, they may just hand you a card with their Web site address and tell you to apply there. This is actually quite common at job fairs now – a large number of employers will just direct you to their website. I suggest to save time and avoid this pitfall you view the ad to see what companies will be at the job fair then go online and apply on their website for the applicable opportunities.

If your research shows you that a job fair will include companies that are currently hiring people to do what you do, then the plus side to attending the fair is that it offers a fantastic opportunity for face-to-face contact with a potential employer.  Once you decide to attend a fair, do it the right way: professionally dressed, resume and business cards in hand, with a name tag and a friendly smile.  Get there at least an hour early so you can be one of the first people in the door—before all the job seekers’ faces start running together!

Make sure your resume is job fair ready to enhance your chances of landing an interview.  Learn more about professional and executive resume writing and make an immediate impact on your job search today.


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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout, The Chicago Tribune,, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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  1. August 13th, 2010 at 16:29 | #1


    Excellent points. My recent experiences usually include several hours of waiting in line to meet the “hiring managers”. Often I am told to apply on-line. I consider every job fair a learning experience and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

  2. August 24th, 2010 at 14:48 | #2

    So true. Without preparing for a job fair, it can indeed be a waste of time. Really like your blog, thank you.

  3. Joe Downey
    February 21st, 2013 at 13:56 | #3

    You always see the same types of Companies nothing of Real Quality to work for. The Resturants, Nursing Homes and Security companies You know the ones that pay 9 bucks and Hour never a raise. If these companies were BOOMING I could see going to Job Fairs to recurit instead they are just looking for Bodies to fill a Position. Ask them to put in writing that the Promote from the Ranks they will not do it

  1. August 12th, 2010 at 17:58 | #1

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