A career fair is an event where a large number of recruiters and potential employers gather for the purpose of providing information about available positions and their companies in general. It may also be called a job fair, and it can be a great opportunity to learn about a range of possible jobs, and to get a foot in the door. For employers, a career fair is a chance to meet large numbers of potential applicants and quickly weed through them to find suitable candidates. College campuses often sponsor these events, and they may also be held as community events.
Many people believe that a career fair is a casual chance to meet potential employers and to learn more about them. While this certainly can be true, a career fair has a much more aggressive undertone. While employers are happy to provide information, they are also judging applicants who approach them, and in a sense performing miniature job interviews. People who are confident, assertive, and impressive are likely to be invited back to the potential employer for a longer conversation, while less outgoing job seekers will be ignored.
Typically, a job fair takes the form of a series of tables which are staffed by representatives of various companies and organizations. At a general career fair, a wide range of job possibilities may be represented, from military service to scientific research. In other cases, a fair is organized with a focus, such as careers in the humanities. Each table is usually stocked with informational literature and posters, and staffers who are knowledgeable about the company. These staffers also double as recruiters, and they attend the event with a sharp eye for new blood.
It is not uncommon for job seekers to offer resumes to staffers at a career fair. They may also include personalizations on their resumes, so that the staffers can better remember them, and staffers may take notes for future reference. Business cards may be exchanged as well. Recruiters may encourage specific attendees to apply for particular job openings, or to file a general application with the company.
Usually, a company which sends representatives to a career fair has job openings. The company may also be thinking in the long term, looking for interns who could potentially develop into full employees. For job applicants, the ability to meet many employers on the same day is great, but it can also be very stressful, as each interaction should be treated like a job interview. By convention, job seekers attend career fairs in clothing which is appropriate for work, in order to put the best foot forward.