Making the Most of a Career Fair

Career Fair Myths and Realities

MYTH: Job offers are made at career and job fairs.
REALITY: Company representatives almost never make an offer at a fair. At best, they may tell you they’ll call at a later date to schedule an interview. Just in case a recruiter wants to schedule a meeting, be prepared with your calendar and available dates. Some employers attending UMass Lowell's Career Fairs schedule next-day interviews in the Career & Co-op Center.

MYTH: It’s OK to "just show up" at a career fair.
REALITY: It's best to be prepared! Read "Getting the Most from a Career Fair."

MYTH: The recruiters know about all the jobs in their company or organization.
REALITY: Employers send different types of representatives to career fairs. Some are from the Human Resources department; typically, HR representatives will have an overview of the hiring needs throughout the organization, but they might not know the details of any particular opportunity. Sometimes, the actual hiring managers come to career fairs. They focus on the needs for their department or division. They may be aware of opportunities in other departments or divisions, but it's unlikely that they will have details.

MYTH: All companies represented have job opportunities available.
REALITY: Companies attend career fairs for a variety of reasons. The three primary ones: (1) advertising current openings; (2) scoping out and screening potential candidates for future hiring needs; (3) promoting general visibility for the organization.

MYTH: Company representatives and recruiters will stay at their recruiting table all day.
REALITY: Based on their work schedule and/or turnout, recruiters may show up late, leave early, or rotate shifts with other representatives.

MYTH: All you have to do is drop off your resume.
REALITY: You have that option, but you would be missing an opportunity to talk face-to-face with a recruiter, make yourself a better known candidate, develop your network, and ask questions about the company, its hiring needs, and the industry.

MYTH: There’s no need to follow up after the career fair.
REALITY: A thank-you letter and a follow-up e-mail or phone call will favorably differentiate you from other candidates.

MYTH: Specialized career fairs are only for people with that academic major.
REALITY: Though many organizations have specific needs that they will focus on to identify qualified candidates, they may still help you in three ways: (1) by providing the name of the hiring manager in the department you are interested in; (2) by providing the name of a company recruiter or HR representative who specializes in recruiting for the department you are interested in; (3) becoming a networking contact. Depending on turnout, they also might be willing to talk with you about the company and the industry.