Online or In Person, Job Fair Success Depends on Preparation

Looking for a new job, whether you are currently employed or unemployed, is stressful. Luckily, job seekers have more options than ever when it comes to connecting with employers. Virtual job fairs have come a long way since being widely implemented during pandemic lock downs. A variety of platforms now offer job seekers and recruiters an incredibly interactive experience from the comfort and convenience of home or office. In-person events are now back and provide an outlet for people who feel more effective in a face-to-face environment (or simply just want to get out and mix with people).

However you choose to participate in a job fair, the preparation is key. Job fair organizers stress that it is critical to do your research and go into each event with a plan that includes:

  • What companies do you want to meet with
  • An understanding of those companies' business
  • A list of current open positions of interest

Recruiters should similarly do their homework, looking at registration lists and identifying people they want to attract to their booth. With basic preparation, there are some tips that are unique to each type of event.

In Person

With more options, attendance at job fairs has declined across the board. The people who come out to in-person job fairs are doing so because they are serious about the job search and feel that is the way they can most effectively have a discussion. Less people allows time for more in-depth conversations with serious seekers. This ability to spend more time with a company makes in person a great option if there is a company or position you are incredibly interested in. Use the time and intimacy of in person to your advantage.

According to Rob Riggins, Marketing Director for ClearedJobs, smaller companies benefit from the interaction of in person events. Without a brand name to draw attendees, they can physically walk the show and start conversations with people, driving up the number of interviews and interactions.


Virtual events drive another v word - volume. For companies, virtual events allow recruiters to see many more people from a variety of geographies during one session without the added time and effort of travel and set-up of an in-person event. For job seekers, virtual events are a relatively low time commitment, allowing them to attend many more than they would if they were all in person.

Kenneth Fuller, Founder and CEO of reStart Events, emphasized the importance of preparation for attendees - knowing what companies will be present and what they are hiring for. Visit their careers pages, make a list of the openings that you are a fit for, and be prepared to chat about those specific opportunities - it is paramount to your success as a job seeker and will go a long way with the representatives you engage with. He also advises there is another layer of preparation for virtual events, finding out what platform the event is using and making sure you are familiar with all of the features before logging on to the job fair. If the job fair organizer does not provide tips for using their platform, a quick search can unearth training videos that will show you the best ways to use the platform to get the interaction you're looking for.

Don't Forget Your Social Networks

Outside of events, social networks, primarily LinkedIn, are powerful tools for job seekers. The key is letting people know you are looking and open to work. In today's market, being laid off is not a stigma-it's a reality most people have faced. In fact, some companies are looking specifically to recruit recently laid-off individuals from specific organizations.

Transparency is key. Let people know exactly what you are looking for in a job and a work environment. Employers are more open than ever to talking about work-life balance and knowing your preferred mix of in-office and work-from-home schedule.

Whatever you feel most comfortable with, be careful to not lock into only doing in person or virtual. Take a look at the pros and cons of each method and match them to what you're looking to get out of the event.

GovEvents features a wide variety of events for job seekers.

  • Virtual All Clearances Cleared Job Fair (March 2, 2023; virtual) - Security cleared professionals can participate from anywhere and interview via text, audio, or video chat from the comfort of your home or office.
  • Corporate Gray Virtual Military-Friendly Job Fair (March 16, 2023; virtual) -This event provides military-experienced job seekers the opportunity to meet with employers nationwide via text chat and video interviews.
  • TECHEXPO Top Secret Hiring Event & Networking Reception (March 23, 2023; Herndon, VA) - Job seekers with a secret clearance or above can interview with leading defense employers.
  • reStartEvents Nationwide TS/SCI & Above Cleared Virtual Career Fair (March 30, 2023; virtual) - People with active TS/SCI, CI Poly or Full Scope Poly Security Clearance can engage with hiring managers and recruiters from some of the nation's leading defense contractors, all from the safety and comfort of your home or office.
  • WIT Spring 2023 Hybrid Job Fair (March 30-31, 2023; Tysons, VA and virtual) - Women in Technology (WIT) brings technology and business professionals of all levels together with top organizations in the DC Metro area looking to fill a wide variety of roles. Both women and men are encouraged to participate and meet recruiters and hiring managers actively seeking candidates for positions. Candidates and employers can attend the in-person job fair on March 30th and have the option to attend online on March 31 to have even more time to maximize your recruiting efforts or job search.

Take a look to find your perfect match event that will lead to your perfect match job.

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