Job fairs are one option for employers seeking new workers and entry-level employees, including students and recent graduates, seeking opportunities in their given field. While job fairs aren't the only way of bringing together employers and applicants, they offer a chance for face-to-face interaction that can prove useful for both parties.
Most job fairs feature a theme or apply to a specific field or industry. For example, job fairs might cater to careers in education, business, technology or medicine. This allows employers to target specific types of applicants by choosing which fairs to participate in. It also makes the process more efficient for applicants, who can meet with several potential employers in a single session.
Besides bringing together employers and applicants with matching needs and skills, job fairs have additional benefits to both groups. For applicants, a job fair is a chance to meet prospective employers in person, which is difficult otherwise. It also speeds up the process of applying for a job, especially if employers offer on-the-spot interviews. Employers can screen many candidates on the same day and might save money by sending a representative to a job fair, as opposed to screening applicants in-house and holding a series of interviews and follow-ups over an extended period.
Job fairs feature an extremely limited time frame. An applicant might not be able to visit every employer whose openings interest him. At the same time, employers must make quick judgments about applicants based on short exchanges and interviews with minimal time for preparation. Applicants with strong resumes but weak interpersonal skills might not stand out at job fairs as well as they would when applying through a more traditional process.
Even though the purpose of a job fair is to unite employers with applicants, you can use it as a learning experience. Attending a job fair as a student allows you to pursue internships instead of full-time positions, or it allows you to meet representatives of companies that you know little about or are just beginning to develop an interest in working for. You can also attend job fairs that cater to different fields as a means of exploring a wider scope of job opportunities and meeting employers you might not have considered otherwise.
Besides job fairs, applicants and employers use a number of methods to secure employment. The Internet is a major source of resume postings and job listings on commercial career sites and company websites. Employers use techniques such as group interviews and telephone interviews to learn about candidates quickly and conveniently, without the need to dispatch representatives to job fairs. Professional networking events, which sometimes take on a more social, informal tone, are another way for employers to meet potential applicants and share information.