Short answer, no. The differences between these events can mean creating valuable connections that lead to a job or wasting a day collecting pens and mints.
The terms job fair, career expo, and hiring events often mistaken for interchangeable terms when are in actuality not the same at all.
Job fairs, also referred to as career fairs or career expos, events for employers, recruiters, and colleges, where information is provided to potential employees. These events don’t always equal jobs, but they allow job seekers to learn about the companies, schools or work-related vendors in attendance.
Job fairs are opportunities to gather knowledge and network while deciding if an employer is a good fit for your career path.
- Does the company offer flexibility?
- Is there room for advancement?
- Are there opportunities for professional growth?
These are just a few questions you should consider before accepting a job offer, and a job fair is an excellent place to get answers.
A hiring fair or hiring event is usually sponsored by an organization (ACS, Workforce, City) or industry-specific employers (IT, Education, Healthcare). Some participants will have open positions they hope to fill and often will hold on-site interviews. Prior to the event, a list of employers will be provided, and in some cases, a list of open positions. Attending a hiring event or hiring fair provides a better chance of landing a job.
Virtual Job Fairs
Virtual job fairs take place on online forums such as chat rooms, webinars, or telecommunication environments. Job seekers register and upload their resumes for placement with specific employers or browse links of participating employers.
As with anything online be aware of scams. If they request payment or personal information trust your gut and just say no!
A list of employers will be provided in advance, so research them before the event and decide on those you plan to pursue. Treat these events like an interview and be prepared. Review the company’s website and open positions.
Hiring events will be packed with employers and eager job seekers so you won’t be able to speak with every employer.
- Choose your top five and target your resume for each company (if possible, towards specific positions) and create individual cover letters (it’s a lot of work, but job searching is a job!)
- Plan your day
- Locate your top five booths
- Practice your elevator speech.
Prepare for the Event
You only get one chance to make a first impression so make it count! Wear a professional interview outfit, a neutral suit, or dress pants and a blazer. Ladies, it is tempting to wear heels but keep in mind you’ll be on your feet all day; sensible shoes will be your best friend. Use a portfolio or small briefcase to hold resumes, cover letters, business cards (if you have them), a couple of pens, car keys and silenced cell phone. Leave everything else at home or in the car.
Research before you go
I can’t stress this enough.
- Express your interest by preparing, gathering information and asking engaging questions.
- Be pleasant and polite, smile and have a firm handshake!
- Bring several copies of your resume and cover letter in addition to the targeted resumes you created for your top five employers.
Follow Up After the Event
Follow up with the recruiters and employers you spoke with during the event.
- Be sure to collect business cards so you’ll have the correct contact information.
- Send an email or a hand-written note, within a day or two after the event. Use this opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues that arise during the event. Reiterate your interest in their company. In my family, thank you cards are mandatory, so when my mother sent a note after an interview the employer responded with a job offer.
Job fairs and hiring events are not about collecting free company swag, they are valuable opportunities to network, learn about employers and land a job. To make the best of a hiring event, prepare, research, and plan.
If you are attending a job event soon, contact CASY or MSCCN.
One of our experienced Employment Specialist will be happy to help you prepare.
Written by: Amanda Marksmeier