NEWS + ADVICE
Understanding the 3 Types of Job Fairs in Your Military Transition
A lot of times, job fairs are the first place that people begin during their military transition. To help set you up for success, we’re going to talk about the different types of job fairs you might encounter.
If you understand the different types, you’ll be able to manage your expectations from the start and get better results. There are three basic types of job fairs (aside from in-person vs virtual) to be aware of:
- Geographic specific
- Industry specific
- Characteristic specific
It’s important to understand what employers are looking for at each type of event. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect at all three.
1. Geographic-Specific Job Fairs
You’re probably going to run into geographic-specific job fairs most frequently. They’re hosted on base a lot of times, or on posts.
When you go to an event like this, there’s gonna be lots of industries present. You’ll see lots of folks, lots of different things – you can’t really pigeonhole it as a job fair for one specific thing.
You’ll see things like sheriff’s offices for instance. These opportunities are where people are trying to, in one sense or another, keep you where you’re at, because the local economy wants to hire people. There are also typically local education and assistance institutions at these geographic-specific events too.
Additionally, you’ll see some of the big name corporations. However, you’re probably not going to get a lot of information about the big name corporations’ jobs that are located somewhere else. What they’ve probably done is (especially if you’re at a smaller base), staffed their booth with program managers and project managers – people that are living in that area. They’re going to speak to whatever they do locally—that geographic-specific thing.
2. Industry-Specific Job Fairs
When we talk about industry-specific job fairs, this might mean things like health care, aviation, cyber security, or security cleared jobs.
At industry-specific job fairs, all of the companies there are going to want to talk about a specific type of thing, even if the company does lots of different other things. They’ve paid money to attend that job fair so they can find that specific kind of talent.
A lot of times these job fairs might even be associated with conferences or other kinds of special events. For example, we produce the job fair at the National Cyber Summit in Huntsville. That job fair attracts cyber security talent since it’s in conjunction with a cyber security conference.
When you attend Cleared Job Fairs, you’ll find the room filled with government contractors. That’s the place to be if you have a clearance, because that’s what those employers are trying to find.
So these types of niche events are excellent for leveraging something specific you have to offer employers. If you’re a nurse and you go to a health care job fair, that’s an excellent place to be.
On the flip side, it may not be such a great thing if you go to an aviation-based job fair, and you don’t turn wrenches on airplanes or helicopters. Even if the company offers other positions that you’re the right fit for, the recruiter at that event won’t be prepared to talk about those other roles that day.
So when you look at those industry-specific events, just know they can be a home run or a strikeout sometimes. If that’s what you do, that’s a place you need to be. But if it’s not what you do, you want to lower your expectations quite a bit.
And remember that “veteran” is not an industry. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make coming out of the service. They think that a veteran hiring event is an industry-specific event because they’re focusing on veterans. That’s not the case. Veteran is not a skill set. It’s not an industry. It’s a characteristic, which we’ll dive into next.
3. Characteristic-Specific Job Fairs
This is where you’ll find your veteran hiring events. You might also find job fairs that are focused on things like race, ethnicity and gender, as well as students.
When I used to recruit, I attended things like black engineers society hiring events and women in cyber security hiring events. They’re mixing a characteristic into the skill set.
You might see a wide variety of industries. It could be people that are looking for all kinds of stuff, but they’re focusing on that specific characteristic.
So those company representatives (like at the geographic events) are going be able to speak to the big picture of their company, but maybe not to specific opportunities. They might be more focused on entry-level positions, as opposed to that one very niche position you’re interested in.
It can be frustrating if you were expecting something different. So if you see a veteran hiring event, just know that they may not be able to talk to a specific role. But they may have a veteran hiring advocate or someone who can explain the company to you, just maybe not a specific opportunity.
Virtual Job Fairs
Now, all of those different events can either be in-person or virtual. A lot of the virtual events didn’t really take off till COVID hit, and they’re a lot better than they were four or five years ago.
We have four virtual Cleared Job Fairs every year. The real value is, they’re not confined to a specific area. So if you’re stationed somewhere, whether it be at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Okinawa, Japan, Naples, Italy, or somewhere else, a virtual event might be one of the only times you can really start getting out there.
Many of the virtual events nowadays use some really great technology. They often have the opportunity for video conferencing, or at least voice conferencing. So be prepared for that if possible, but also remember that technology can be tough for some people. Not all recruiters or hiring managers are experts with virtual platforms.
Recruiters who work job fairs all the time are likely really good at working those virtual events, but sometimes they bring in hiring managers or program managers. Those people are really important to the process, but they may not be prepared to take advantage of all that a virtual platform offers, since their day job isn’t recruiting.
So when you’re participating in those virtual events, consider that just because the representatives may not be great at it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a great company.
Overall, job fairs can be a terrific tool in your military transition. And if you go to the right events, they can be even more effective. So whether you’re exiting the military after four years or 30, use job fairs to your advantage to help support your transition.This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2023 11:01 am