Why Career Fairs are a Waste of Time

On Friday, my husband and I attended a career fair in New York City, sponsored by Careerbuilder.com. We thought it would be a great way to network ourselves and get in front of employers versus sending resume after resume via email for yet another day. 

The night before, we printed out about three dozen resumes at Staples. That in and of itself was a struggle, as the machine printed our resumes crooked and stapled everything incorrectly. At the time, it was utterly frustrating; looking back, we have to laugh, but nonetheless, it certainly was not worth the $9 we spent.

I have been to career fairs before and left thoroughly disappointed, so I don’t know why I expected this one to be any different, but I did. I guess I thought because there are so many people out of work, employers would be eager to help out (or at least look like they wanted to help out) the 5 million of us who have lost jobs. Basically, I had some hope. Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

We waited on a line that was around the block. It wasn’t too bad, but maybe that was because I had someone to wait with. 

My husband and I knew the list of employers weren’t directly in our industries, but we took a shot anyway because the event was sponsored by companies like AOL and PIX, and we were open to exploring new opportunities. Boy, did we misjudge this one. 

There must have been about 10 employers at this thing and at least 500 people in attendance by the 10 o’clock hour. Every job seemed to be in sales. And if that wasn’t bad enough, all these employers, who we all were getting the chance to meet face-to-face and make that lasting impression with, told us to apply for the open positions available at their companies online.
What?!?

So we stood online, as did hundreds of other people only to be told that we should go to the company’s website and apply in their career center portal? Why the hell was I here? Additionally, there were so few jobs that offered anything but sales. I felt like I was back at college at their career fairs. I’m not knocking sales jobs, don’t get me wrong, but every career fair I have ever been to, since I was an undergrad, everyone is always looking for salespeople, never any broader, niche occupations, like public relations, marketing or communications.

While we did make the effort to talk to some employers and shake a few hands, there was nothing there for us. And anything that seemed relatively worthwhile, we were told to head to the website and apply for the open position there. Oh, and let me tell you about that one: the website they gave us didn’t even work (Prudential)

Even though the career fair wasn’t for us, I really hope that the hundreds of other people that attended the event found it worthwhile because people need jobs. It’s amazing, yet daunting, how many people are looking for work right now. I saw a million types of people standing on that line or walking around the less than full room of employers. 

Unemployment does not choose. It’s like a disease. You can’t control who its bestows itself upon, it just happens, by no fault of your own. No matter how hard you may have worked, no matter how long you may have worked; regardless of race, gender, age, or religion, unemployment can happen to you. We are just one of millions of people looking for a cure.

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2 responses to “Why Career Fairs are a Waste of Time

  1. Great story! Love the metaphor of disease and love you!

  2. I loved how your wrapped up your story with: “Unemployment does not choose. It’s like a disease. You can’t control who its bestows itself upon, it just happens, by no fault of your own. No matter how hard you may have worked, no matter how long you may have worked; regardless of race, gender, age, or religion, unemployment can happen to you. We are just one of millions of people looking for a cure.”

    -Beautiful! (I just heard about the blog)

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