Dear Matt: Are job fairs still a good way to find jobs? Do employers actively recruit at these job fairs, or are they more of a networking event?

Matt says: Mike Lang, Workforce Development Specialist with the Burnsville branch of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (, coordinates the annual Get Jobs Job Fair event, held each March in Eagan. This year's job fair featured 72 exhibitors, with 57 employers actively recruiting. Numerous job seekers who attended that Job Fair reported back to him that they obtained full-time employment based on attending the job fair.

"This type of interaction is precisely our goal for holding job fairs," said Lang. "We want to connect as many job seekers with as many employers as we can."

Kathy Northamer, District President of Robert Half Technology in Minneapolis, said job fairs benefit employers and recruiters because they have immediate access to candidates and can meet with them in person to gauge their qualifications, communication skills and how well they present themselves.

"Recruiters can use the opportunity to interview or screen the candidate to see if he or she'd be a good fit for the position," said Northammer. "Job fairs can help expedite the process of finding the right candidate."

Megan Mulcahy, a Recruiter with Walser Automotive Group in Hopkins, believes job fairs are an excellent way to find talent. Among other strategies, Walser uses job fairs to recruit for its management training program and has found a number of qualified candidates through college-sponsored career fairs.

"Job fairs truly are a way for [job seekers] to get their foot in the door and make a good first impression," said Mulcahy.

Job seekers take note: Employers like to attend job fairs where there are other reputable companies also attending. They want to be in position to talk to a large number of talented candidates with diverse backgrounds. When attending a job fair, don't pre-judge any company - you never know what opportunities could be out there. There's another trend developing too, says Northammer. Large companies - including those in the Minneapolis area - are now hosting online job fairs or webinars as a way to attract candidates.

Even if you attend a job fair and don't find a job, you can still gain from the experience.

"Treat it as a chance to market your skills, make connections and see if these employers might be able to provide insight, advice or other helpful tips that can help in the future," said Lang.