Make the Most of Your Next Job Fair

Job fairs are an excellent resource for people seeking employment. They provide you with a unique opportunity to interact with multiple employers who are actively hiring, and network with professionals in your community. However, if you haven’t been to a job fair before, or you’ve been “off the market” for a while, the event can seem daunting. Employers meet with a lot of applicants at fairs, and there will likely be a number of companies you wish to speak with as well, so it’s important to prepare beforehand in order to make the most of your time. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next job fair, and increase your chances of job search success. 

Do Your Research

Find out what companies will be attending the event, and then check out their websites and LinkedIn pages to learn about what they do and what types of openings they have. This will help you prioritize your time to ensure that you can get some face time with the companies that you are most interested in. Employers will be impressed that you have done your homework, and since you will have an idea of what they are looking for, you will be in a better position to discuss why you are a strong candidate. 

Update Your Resume

Read through your resume carefully. Make sure that it is up-to-date, lists accurate contact information, includes any new skills or proficiencies, and is free of typos. Think about the type of work you’re looking for, and make sure that the information you’ve highlighted speaks to that. Once you’re satisfied that the resume reflects your most relevant skills and experience, print copies to bring with you to the job fair. If you have a variety of skillsets, don’t be afraid to bring a couple different versions of your resume. 



Practice Introducing Yourself

Brainstorm a short (but memorable) introduction that captures who you are as a candidate. A great elevator pitch is usually no more than 30-45 seconds. Think about your key strengths, your level of experience, and how you could best present these skills to spark the interest of a potential employer. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, practice it with a friend. Don’t overdo it though – you want to come across as professional and personable, but too much practice may leave you sounding rehearsed. 

Treat it Like a Job Interview

Dress like you would for a job interview, and treat all of your interactions like a job interview. With so much activity happening around you, and so many people present, it can be hard to tell who is a hiring manager. You only have one chance to make a great first impression, so smile, be polite, and be engaged in all of your interactions – whether they are in the parking lot, coffee area, or the event space itself. It is okay to attend a job fair with others, but remember that once you get there, it is strictly business. 



Ask Questions

When you’re speaking with a hiring manager, don’t forget that it is an opportunity for you to gather information and develop a stronger sense of whether you could see yourself at this company. Asking questions helps show that you are interested, and gives the employer a chance to share information that you may not have been able to find elsewhere. If you end up going through the company’s hiring process, what you learn today may help give you a competitive edge in your future interview, so listen carefully.  






Follow Through

If you promised an employer a phone call, email, or online application, be sure to follow through with those actions in a timely manner. Doing so shows that you are dependable, respectful of their time, and serious about the position discussed. If they’ve asked you to take any of these additional steps, it means they see potential in you as a candidate, so there is no better time to explore your options with them. This is a good lead, so don’t miss out on a chance to see what opportunities might await you.