A lot changed once COVID entered our consciousness a couple of years ago. Job Searching was turned upside down. The methods of connecting a prospective employer to a candidate went almost exclusively electronic, with most companies not accepting walk-in traffic and even Career Fairs becoming virtual.

With COVID stabilizing (we hope!), we are starting to see a return to some sense of normalcy when it comes to a job search. A sure sign that things are starting to come back is the announcement of several Career Fairs in the area. I am not referring to the virtual version held via Zoom or MS Teams, but actual in-person events.

You may be questioning whether making the effort to attend a Career Fair is worth it versus just sending in a Resume. Especially at a time when the labor market is still favoring the candidate due to short supply for certain skill sets. Career Fairs, however, offer some very real benefits compared to other methods. Let’s list just some of the reasons to leave your home to attend.

• Meet Company Representative: A Career Fair is a fantastic opportunity to connect with a company representative to answer any initial questions you may have. Broad questions such as what a company does, company culture, future plans, etc. can be quickly answered, leading you to be able to quickly decide whether they should be of interest.

• Connect With Multiple Companies: Assuming this is not a single-company Career Fair, this type of event allows you, over the course of an hour or two, to connect with several companies. It makes sense to invest that little time in order to generate so many leads.

• Breaks Up Your Job Search Routine: It is easy to fall into a rut with your job search. Plugging away at your computer, checking out job websites and sending e-mails can wear down your energy level. Getting out of the house and actually interacting with others can prove to be a real motivator. 

• Companies Are Serious: Attending a Career Fair is a time-consuming event for an employer. Typically, those companies attending have key and/or multiple openings that need to be filled. Some of these opportunities may not be widely advertised yet to the general public.

Due to the ever-present shadow of COVID, there are some adjustments that you should consider making when you attend.

• Don’t Go If Under the Weather: If you have any type of Covid related symptoms, then it is an easy decision that you stay home. I would suggest that if you have any type of congestion, cough, etc., then you should also pass on the Career Fair. What you don’t want to do is make a Recruiter uncomfortable and therefore leave a negative first impression.

• Mask and Social Distance When Necessary: Respect the wishes of the Recruiters staffing the Career Fair tables. If there is a need to mask and keep a social-distance, then please do so. Similar to our first bullet-point, you don’t want to leave a bad first impression.

• Bring Sanitizer: You may be touching a lot of public doorknobs, tables, etc. Stay safe and bring a portable hand sanitizer with you. If you get really lucky, you may find a table offering free company branded samples of sanitizer for you to use.

• Determine When to Go: Typically Career Fairs are busiest early and (if applicable) at lunch time. Going at an off-hour may not only give you more one-on-one time with the company representative, but also will allow you to reduce your exposure risk from the large crowd.

• Prepare as Usual: Some aspects of a Career Fair do not change, and you should still prepare in advance for your visit. You can do this by familiarizing yourself with the attendees of the Career Fair and mark on the map those that you wish to visit. Research in advance the companies that you have targeted and prepare your brief introduction that will begin the conversation with the Recruiter. Don’t forget to bring copies of your Resume, along with a notepad and pen in order to take notes or phone numbers down.

So much changed due to COVID-19 that it is reassuring to see something going back to the way that it used to be. The return of the in-person Career Fair is a wonderful positive for both employers and Job Seekers. Regularly review www.wnyjobs.com for the latest Career Fair events in Western New York, so you can plan your schedule accordingly to attend.

As always, the best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein

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