Many Employers “Feel Trapped” in Exhibiting at Career Fairs, Report Says

Career fairs: Popular enough that seemingly every college students has been to one or two in poorly fitting business attire, not popular enough that they actually get a job through them.

At least not according to the numbers. Career fairs might predate the internet, but they have also been surpassed by the internet as a way for employers to connect with freshly-graduated potential employees. Given the instant connections social media and employer websites can offer, it’s time to face the facts: Career fairs may be an outdated concept.

Career Fairs Cost a Lot and Offer Little in Return

The recent findings come via the research and consulting firm Universum Global, which tracks how employers and their top talent have come together. The biggest factor is social media, followed by websites.

“Career fairs are behind social media and employer websites, with engineering/IT students using them more than business students (45 percent of engineering/IT students vs. 40 percent of business students),” the report says.

Online job boards came in fourth in the rankings. So why do businesses feel trapped? Because like many other branding opportunities, the value in career fairs can be tough to quantify.

…But They Can Be Essential to Building a Brand

Here’s how Universum summed up the dilemma facing major businesses who are still participating in college career fairs:

“A great deal of employers feel trapped in exhibiting at career fairs, because while these events have large costs and often little return, they help communicate their brand and offer a presence among potential competitors. However, these channels are still viable options for attracting and recruiting talent for all industries when performed correctly and with specific student needs in mind,” the report notes.

The bottom line? Companies can engage at career fairs if they find it’s worth keeping their brand in the average college student mind, but they may want to build their online presence far more. After all, Amazon needs all the help it can get to fill 100,000 positions in 18 months.

“It’s safe to say that social media and employer websites go hand in hand and play pivotal roles in communicating with students in these industries. Social media content should be focused on building rapports and connecting talent to the company website in order to see the most resonation,” as Universum puts it.

But for college students everywhere, it’s a win-win. With career fairs, they can practice their skills at negotiating a professional environment. They can always go home afterwards to find an actual job online.

Read more about finding that ultimate job at TechCo

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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