Behind the scenes: How Jobs Expo became Ireland’s biggest careers fair
Ever wondered what it takes to put together a careers fair like Jobs Expo? Organiser Bronagh Cotter tells us about the upcoming Jobs Expo Dublin, the vision behind the event, and how the Jobs Expo team ensures there is the right mix of candidates and companies at each event.
It’s two weeks before the next Jobs Expo Dublin, and the Jobs Expo office is abuzz with phone calls. There are companies asking about exhibiting, jobseekers looking for information, floor plans being finalised and a whole lot more.
“It is always hectic on the run up to Jobs Expo, but at this stage we’re a well-oiled machine,” laughs Bronagh.
“We’ve been running the Jobs Expo since 2012, but this October’s event in Dublin is the biggest yet. There are over fifty companies across a range of sectors exhibiting as well as recruiting. In addition, the Canadian Government is taking part and bringing fifteen different companies with them to recruit at Jobs Expo Dublin,” she says.
Jobs Expo Dublin will be divided into a number of specialist areas to make navigating the event easier for candidates. These include the Digital City for computer and IT jobs, Go Global for international career opportunities overseas, and The Site for jobs in construction, engineering and related trades.
Changes in the jobs market
There have been significant changes in the jobs market since 2012 explains Bronagh.
“Our vision when we started Jobs Expo was to give skilled professionals a chance to meet face-to-face with employers. There was a dearth of jobs and huge amounts of highly qualified people were out of work. They were sending out CV after CV without getting any response. Jobs Expo gave them a chance to talk to employers. CVs are a great and necessary tool, but they can’t replace actually meeting with prospective employers.”
“Now in 2017, there’s almost the opposite problem. There are so many companies desperate to recruit so that they can grow, but they are having trouble finding the right people. Jobs Expo gives them the opportunity to meet a variety of candidates and fill roles.”
The vast majority of Jobs Expo attendees are skilled professionals in employment. They come along to see what options are out there says Bronagh.
“Nearly four-fifths of Jobs Expo attendees are skilled, qualified and experienced professionals. These are people who are not checking jobs boards actively looking for work. But they are keen to see what’s available, how they can grow their careers and what opportunities the companies exhibiting have on offer. Jobs Expo can reach these people in ways that other recruitment channels can’t. This is because they get the chance to meet with companies, ask questions and do informal interviews. It’s a great way of seeing if a career move is the right choice.”
Getting the balance right
Since 2012, Jobs Expo has become Ireland’s biggest careers event. The key to their success, says Bronagh, is getting the right mix of companies and candidates.
“We work tirelessly to ensure that there is something for every attendee at Jobs Expo. We want there to be positions available whether you are student, a recent graduate, a skilled professional or even a company director. By the same token, we need to make sure that every company comes away with a portfolio of strong candidates. For months beforehand, we are engage with jobseekers as well as employers. Every Jobs Expo event has to balance both sides of the equation, or it simply wouldn’t work.”
Free careers advice and seminars
As well as companies recruiting at the event, every Jobs Expo includes free career advice at the Career Clinic.
“The Career Clinic is one of the most popular and busiest parts of Jobs Expo. Attendees can meet with professional development coaches free of charge. They can assist with issues such as interview skills, writing the best possible CV, and changing career direction. Even highly qualified people sometimes need help showcasing their skills to employers. As you know, interviews can also make people nervous. Knowing how to approach an interview is an invaluable skill, and it’s one anyone can learn.”
Jobs Expo also includes a full day of seminars at the Agenda Stage presented by industry insiders.
“We have a super line-up of seminars for Dublin. These include job-seeking skills and well as talks from companies explaining what they do and what kinds of candidates they are looking for. We’re also tackling the contentious topic of the ‘glass ceiling’ and how professional women can move into senior roles. That should be a great talk,” says Bronagh.
With Jobs Expo Dublin almost finalised, the team must be looking forward to putting their feet up.
“No chance of that!” laughs Bronagh. “We have Jobs Expo Cork coming up in November and we’re already working on Jobs Expo Galway which takes place in February. It takes months to pull every event together so we’re always on the go. But we love the buzz. We wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Jobs Expo Dublin takes place on Saturday 21st October at Croke Park from 10am to 4pm. Jobs Expo Cork will be held on Saturday 24th November at the UCC Conference Centre from 10am to 4pm.
Attendance is free. To register for a ticket click here.