Attitude about career fairs has shifted

By Wendy Winter-Searcy, Arapahoe Community College, Littleton
Posted

Career fairs are dead. Just a few years ago, career services offices were discussing the future of career fairs, and whether or not they would exist over the next several years. Online application processes were new and applicant tracking systems were the way recruiters were going to identify qualified candidates. Career fairs felt useless to participants when the message was, “Go to the web site to get all our information.” The online process of job hunting and hiring can prove lonely, however, missing the human element of potential candidates and employers meeting face to face.

We have seen a recent shift in attitudes related to career fairs. A recent poll says, “Career fairs are here to stay.” This year, employers report attending more career fairs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals, September 14, 2011). Increased interest this year may be a reflection of an economic upswing and a hiring resurgence, but it may also be attributed to the networking and marketing opportunities available through career fairs that is missing during a strictly online application and hiring process.

Participants might quickly recognize that career fairs can serve multiple purposes. Primarily, people consider them as a place to apply for jobs. Since job applications are a formal process, and much needs to be handled electronically, either through email or online systems, the actual job application may not be a part of the fair. Instead, we can think of a career fair as a networking event, a chance for potential employers and candidates to interact. Additionally, a job fair participant may gain great information about industries and career paths that they might not have known about prior to the event. They can explore their options to be more informed in their job search target.

On Tuesday, April 3, Arapahoe Community College invites both students and community members to attend the Spring Career and Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the second floor student lounge at the Littleton Campus. While ACC offers a career fair each spring, this year’s event boasts a new energy and excitement.

Preparation workshops prior to the fair will teach students how to make the most of their time at the event. Helpful tips about what to bring to the fair, and what not to, as well as how to approach employers with a professional handshake and introduction, will assist job seekers with making a good first impression.

Career and job fairs are a networking tool to help you connect face to face with employers, more than being a place to simply drop off a resume. Take advantage of career and job fairs at ACC as well as through the community and make the most of them by coming prepared.

  • Bring your resume. You may need printed copies of your resume and you may also need to follow up with online applications. Be sure to write a professional resume that highlights your best qualifications and have it reviewed by a career counselor. Bring as many printed copies as number of employers you plan to speak to, plus some extra.
  • Dress professionally. Think of a job fair as a pre-interview screening and come dressed as you would to an interview. Popping by on your way to class in your sweats may not do it. This is a time to plan ahead and think about the type of job you are seeking so that you can dress for it.
  • Prepare your "elevator speech." Plan on introducing yourself to several employers and perfect your message ahead of time. Practice helps you present yourself to the best of your ability. Know what you want to communicate about what you are looking for and what you have to offer.

Employers attending ACC’s Spring Career and Job Fair represent a wide variety of industries and have several types of positions for which they will be hiring. Some of these industries will include: finance and insurance, healthcare, military and law enforcement, sales, customer service and child care. Some positions will offer students opportunities for a part-time job while they attend classes. Others will be program-specific or career-focused; aligning with the degrees and certificates offered at ACC.

A few employers who have confirmed their attendance include: Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Aurora Police Recruiting, Centura Health, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Comcast, DISH, Entercom, Express Employment Professionals, Kaiser Permanente, Ken Caryl Range Master Association, HSS, KinderCare, Lode Data Corporation, State Farm, Total Quality Logistics, Trulia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wells Fargo, and Wind Crest. Arapahoe/Douglas Works! Workforce Center will also be on hand for the event. They are available to assist job seekers with additional resources.

ACC is affordable, innovative and inspiring. With more than 100 degree and certificate programs and convenient campuses in Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock, you can DO MORE at ACC. For information about the Spring Career and Job Fair, call 303-797-5805 or visit us online at www.arapahoe.edu.