Recruiters, Stop Wasting Your Time at Job Fairs!

Photo Credit: Microsoft ImagesGuess what recruiters if you’re attending job fairs just to get out of the office and telling job seekers “We aren’t accepting resumes. Apply onlineyou’re wasting not just your time and the job seekers time, but the company’s money and possibly damaging their reputation!

I recently attended a local job fair. Of all the fairs I attend this is one of the better ones, ie attendees that are actually pursuing jobs not free pens and key chains. Normally I hear an array of negative comments about the “BIG BLACK HOLE OF HR” and the “I applied and NEVER, EVER heard back”, but not this time. However, I did receive my share of feedback from attendees and their level of frustration about other employers not accepting resumes and directing them to apply online. Well, wake up recruiters if that is you, then yes you are wasting your time!

I’ve learned over the years that the candidate experience matters at every level and I have changed my stance as a recruiter for job fairs. My goal is to be the most memorable employer at the fair. The one that made a personal connection and left a positive impression (regardless of my level of interest).

My strategy is to ask a couple basic, but insightful questions of the job seeker.  I do a quick assessment on organizational fit and then schedule an interview for the following week. Also I ACCEPT THEIR PAPER RESUMES! Oh lord, right? Some say the “paper resume is dead” well yeah in many circumstances it is not necessary but at a job fair it matters. The job seeker probably put a great deal of time, effort and possibly a lot of money into their résumé. They think that the job fair will offer them the opportunity to meet a real HR person and make a real splash but instead HR does the *talk to the hand* and asks them to apply onlineIt’s like a child that paints a picture for their parents and the parents say “Nice but we cannot hang that on the fridge, we will put it in the recycle bin” OUCH, that hurts!

Let’s recap what recruiters need to do to enhance the candidate experience at job fairs:

  • Make a personal connection by being friendly and memorable
  • Accept resumes
  • Be productive and schedule interviews! Nothing is worse than spending 4-5 hours at a job fair to leave with no interviews, it’s simply not productive.


Employers need to see that value in job fairs is more than just pushing their information out there, its their opportunity to build their network, increase their talent pipeline with a diverse group of talent.

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