In good economies and bad, job fairs bring companies and talented prospects together. But while job fairs are an ideal outlet for networking and even getting interviews, many others will have the same ideas and the same goals as you. And competition is just one of the downsides of job fairs.
Overcrowding and Long Waits
Career fairs aim to put recent and pending college graduates, career-changers and the underemployed in direct contact with companies looking to fill positions. But this means that a lot of people will be there, which can make the venue overcrowded and noisy. If companies offer on-the-spot interviews, the lines can be quite long, and this could keep you from interviewing with other companies. You may not even get to talk to your most desired employer if the line for interviews is too long.
While there are careers fairs that bring out Fortune 500 companies and A-list recruiters, many fairs feature much smaller companies offering entry-level jobs or jobs outside your interest. For example, a sports careers fair may feature organizations offering jobs only in sales or marketing, though you would like a job in the administrative area. Also, many fairs attract companies that offer commission-only or temporary jobs, or even no current jobs at all.
Job fairs can be intimidating. It's unlikely that there will cozy offices or comfy chairs, much less privacy. The noisy, competitive environment gets the better of those who are shy, mistakenly confident or underprepared. Unlike having a bad interview with one employer, if you have an off-day at a career fair, you could exhaust employment opportunities with several companies in your area. And if you catch a recruiter at the end of a long day, it may be hard to win his favor.
Even when high-quality employers have actual openings during job fairs, you may not be getting the full picture. Often, companies offering jobs at fairs will not announce other positions, and you may not learn of every opportunity an organization has, only its main hiring needs. And if you do find a company you like that offers the type of job you want, you likely will get only a few minutes with a recruiter to discuss it.