Careers fair vs. networking events – a numbers game

I’ve often wondered why I’m not a big fan of careers fairs. And talking with my colleagues – and running a small tailored networking event with some of our finance students yesterday – I’ve found yet another reason: Careers fairs serve large audiences and help employers to establish a presence with graduates. Yet, they are limited by the common practice by recruiters that after chatting to the students they drive them to the their website for online applications – essentially back to square one for the student. But that’s not the only disadvantage – it’s also a question of numbers: We’ve done careers fairs at Regent’s College with, let’s say 3-4 finance employers (we have space for about 18 stalls and a wide range of courses), and 500 students visiting. Yet last night, we had about 10-15 interested students networking with 7-8 finance professionals. So, not only do career networking events help students get around the ‘company line’ in a more informal setting – they also get a much higher exposure. Do they get a job offer and can hand in their CV? Nope – yet, they can’t do that at a careers fair either. Do they get business cards and LinkedIn contacts? Yes, they do. So in my book that’s networking events 2 : careers fairs 0.

December 1st, 2010 by