Going to a job fair can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these nine great tips to get you ready for your next job fair and you’ll be going in prepared, confident, and ready to make the most of it.
Do Your Research
Knowing what you’re talking about and with who is your biggest asset at a job fair (aside from yourself, of course). Coming prepared will not only make you a more attractive candidate to employers, it will also save you time you would otherwise waste with employers you’re not interested or not a fit for. Research the fair, the attendees, and even the jobs that specific companies are offering (especially for those that you’re most interested in).
Devise A Game Plan
Once you’ve done your research, decide which employers you want to engage with the most and prioritize them. Job fairs aren’t like general conventions where you’re there to just browse. You want to know exactly what employers you’re going to and in what order. A plan will maximize your efficiency and give you a sense of purpose and preparedness that employers may recognize, which will only help convey your interest in them.
Work Your Resume
Now you know who you’re going to engage with and when, so it’s time to circle back to your resume and make sure that it’s up to date and that it presents your experience in the way that you want for the top prioritized employers. You may want to even tailor it to specific companies or position openings to better highlight specific experience you have that apply to those opportunities.
Craft Your Pitch
With many attendees and a restricted time frame, company representatives won’t have all day to chat with you and listen to your story. You’ll need an engaging and informative introduction that tells people what they need to know and gets them wanting to know more. Tell them who you are, what you can offer, and the reason you’re talking to them within 30 to 60 seconds. This quick guide can help you get started.
While you won’t be going through any formal job interviews, plan for company recruiters to ask you a few questions about you and your candidacy. Have your responses to all the basic interview questions prepared in your head so that you don’t stumble if asked.
Chances are if you’ve read this far you’re savvy enough to know that your appearance at job fairs matters. Prepare a business appropriate, formal outfit that’s professional yet comfortable for you to spend hours in. If something is too hot or tight, your discomfort may show itself in your composure and mannerisms.
Make sure you have everything you need to bring organized in a compact portfolio or small bag. You don’t want to wear a backpack or be carrying around a large briefcase. Estimate how many copies of your resume you’ll need based on your plan and make sure to bring plenty of extra just in case. It’s also recommended to bring business cards. If you have a portfolio of work that you may need to show, make sure it’s presentable, up to date, and all ready to go.
Plan To Get Action Items
Decide on the action items you want to take from each meeting and focus on getting them. Ideally, you’ll get contact information from everyone you talk to. Additionally, you may want to have them explain what the next steps in the process are so that you have actionable things to do after the fair. Make sure to take notes on that important information and on particular things you discussed so that you can refer to that information later (it could be useful in follow-up notes and conversations as well). You don’t want to be left in a position of waiting, so plan on how you are going to attain items for you to act on later.
If you make an impression on “hello,” then “goodbye” is where you leave one. You want to leave as memorable to the people you meet. This also may be the best time for you to get contact information and reinforce the next steps in the process. Make sure that you thank everyone for their time and then inform them of how you will proceed with your interest in their company (e.g., “I will follow-up with you tomorrow”; “I will apply to so-and-so position on your website”). Use finesse so that you don’t come of as pushy, but still so your strong interest in the company.