How to tell when a job fair isn't for you

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix woman says she spent a lot of time, effort and money preparing for a local job fair, only to discover the careers up for grabs weren’t at all what she expected.

Iwona Grochowski has been unemployed off and on for the past seven years. When she recently received an email advertising a Phoenix job fair that boasted she could “meet her next employer,” Grochowski registered for the event. She then went to work updating and printing her resume, and making sure her photography website was up to date.

When Grochowski arrived at the career fair Monday morning, she discovered the event only had about a dozen potential employers.

“Where are all the real companies? Is there another room?” Grochowski recalls asking at the registration table.

Grochowski says when she tried asking for more information about the event, no one could provide any insight on the kinds of positions available.

“She didn’t have an exact number of jobs, she didn’t know which companies, she told me to walk around to the booths and see,” Grochowski says.

Local job search expert Ryan Naylor says that should a warning sign every for every potential job seeker.

“Any job fair that is worth your time is going to be promoting or bragging about what employers are going to be there and how many jobs are going be there,” Naylor says. “If you don’t see any of that information, it might be a red flag they’re desperate.”

Naylor advises job seekers to do as much research ahead of time about the kinds of jobs being offered and request a list of employers that are planning to attend so people don’t waste their time going to career fairs that may not be worth it.

Naylor also points out, some job fairs are “industry specific” and may only offer certain types of positions.

Naylor says it still may be worth it to attend any career fair for the networking opportunities.

“Whether you find the right job or not, a lot of people in the H.R. community know someone who might be hiring in that space,” Naylor says.

Grochowski says the next time she gets an email for a job fair, she’s going to do more background research so she doesn’t waste her time and money again.

“It’s very difficult out there and these companies they take advantage of it, you know?” Grochowski says. “They take advantage of people like us just to get people in there.”