“Curriculum Vitaes are all very well,” says Sean Heppinstall, Team Leader at The Job Fair Network, a company which specialises in organising job fairs across the country. “But you can't get to know someone through a Curriculum Vitae.”

This, argues Heppinstall, is one reason why jobs fairs are so popular with employers and job-seekers alike because there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.

“When an employer meets a job-seeker, both parties get to know and understand each other,” he says. “The employer can see what the job-seeker is like, get a feel for their personality and if they would be a good fit with their company and their company dynamic, and if they would be suitable for any specific jobs they have on offer. There are so many things an employer can tick off, just by meeting a candidate on the day of the jobs fair.”

Similarly, by meeting representatives of leading firms from across many different sectors, job-seekers can find out more about the companies attending and the roles they are advertising, and decide if they are the sort of employer they would like to work for. The advice for job-seekers is to find out beforehand about the companies who will be at the jobs fair, arrive with up-to-date CVs, and be prepared to tell them about your skills, experience and strengths. Be open-minded and willing to explore career options that you haven't thought about before.

Open to all...

Jobs fairs — unlike careers fairs which may have seminars and workshops attached — are usually simple events which are free, require no registration and are generally attended by companies who are recruiting.

Usually, they are open to all, without restriction: school leavers, graduates, people who have been made redundant, the unemployed or those who are in work but looking for a change of career.

Fairs can be held in venues of any size, from town halls and guild halls to football stadiums, music arenas and even shopping centres — and they are growing in popularity.

That's because while the online application process can be effective and useful for both companies and those looking for work, for some job seekers, it can also be a faceless, bottomless, demoralising dead end. “Some people say that they can send in their application form to a company and then never hear anything back,” says Heppinstall. “But if a job-seeker can talk to a company at a jobs fair they can gauge interest about their suitability for a particular vacancy. If the job-seeker isn't suitable, they at least get a sense of 'closure', so to speak.

“Yet if they are suitable, they can speak directly to the people who matter about the roles they have open. That can act as a 'fast-track' to employment because they can get an application form then and there. And there have been some cases where candidates have been so impressive that, after a face to face conversation, employers have chased them in order to get them signed up on the day.”