I have attended literally dozens of career and jobs fairs, and along the way I have learned a great deal about how they operate. They are not all the same, and this is the second post in a series about the different types of transitioning military and veteran job and career fairs. In the last post we explored fairs that focus on a specific niche of veterans, and in this post we will go in the opposite direction by looking at the broadest type of job and career fair: open events held on military bases.
Although these events are not limited to military bases, the vast majority of these job fairs are indeed located on military installations. Held in conjunction with transition assistance activities, their targeted group of participants is primarily transitioning military personnel. I have never seen one that turns veterans away from the door, but it is important to recognize that the companies that are participating in these events are primarily looking to fill jobs that are entry level in nature. These are also large events and tend to be well attended by job seekers and participating companies to the point of being crowded. It is important to recognize that these events are great opportunities to go meet representatives from numerous diverse companies and organizations in order to learn more about opportunities and to see if there is something out there that you would like to pursue. It is also important to recognize that it is not the place to start handing out resumes with the expectation that a hiring manager has been waiting all day for you to show up so that they can hire you.
These events are much more like going to a high school dance without a date; you can socialize with a lot of potential dance partners but you are not going to get married on the dance floor. Unfortunately, I have had many people in transition lament that they handed out resume after resume at such an event and nobody ever called them back. As a result, they become frustrated and cynical about job fairs.
That is too bad, because these types of fairs are great for those in transition to see what is out there. If you recognize that up front, then you will have a great opportunity to learn more about companies, industries, jobs, and possible careers. If not, then you risk missing a great opportunity to network.
The best way to find out about these types of career fairs is to look them up at your local military base. Every service has a transition assistance office, and they are the POC for upcoming events. Here is a link to an event at Camp LeJeune on March 26th: Job fair targets transitioning military If you are in the area, check it out. Just remember that it is much more of a networking opportunity than an onsite job interview opportunity.
In the next post we will look at industry-focused opportunities.