How to Succeed at a Job Fair

Are you headed to a job fair?

Just in case you didn’t already know, a job fair is kind of like speed dating for your career. It is a chance for a company to meet and screen a large volume of potential job candidates. Often times they are held on college campuses or other large rooms where companies set up tables where hiring mangers sit and candidates walk around and engage with the companies they are interesting in working for.

However, career and job fairs aren’t just for college students.  Whether you are in college, newly graduated, or a seasoned professional playing the field, these tips will help you succeed at any job fair.

Please remember, career fairs should only be a part of your larger job search.

Tips for Successfully Navigating Career and Job Fairs

Find out if you can preregister

Sometimes job seekers can preregister for a job fair though the event’s website or possibly a Facebook page. Hopefully you will be able to submit your resume. It doesn’t guarantee you will get noticed more, and in fact it also allows employers to pre-screen you, but anytime you can get your name in front of a business you are interested in is a plus.

Do Your Own Pre-Screening

If you can get a list ahead time of which companies are going to be at the job fair then do some research. Remember, you are going there to interview, even if it is not in a “formal” setting, so the more you know about a company the more prepared you will be for questions they might ask you–as well as what you want to ask them.

Bring Lots of Copies of Your Resume

Even if you submit your resume online during registration, bring several clean copies. Employers who are interested in you will want one. Before you go, make sure you update your resume and get a FREE professional resume critique. You want to bring your A game and the best version of yourself on paper that you can create.

Dress To Impresshow do you find referrals

Even if the career fair is on a college campus, don’t dress like a college kid going to morning class. Dress professionally, just like you would for a formal interview.

Develop Your Elevator Pitch

You may only get about five minutes with a potential employer, so practice a short and concise (about a minute) pitch that will sell yourself. Think of it as a commercial for yourself. Lead with this when you first meet someone from the company. Prepare like you would for a regular interview. Come with questions and answers.

Be prepared to answer why you came to the career fair. Before you leave their booth don’t forget to ask what you need to do in order to get a second interview with the company.

Related: Don’t Say This in an Interview

Create a Plan of Attack

Make a list of the companies you want to interview with, starting with your first pick. When you first get to the job fair, figure out where your top choices are located and start with those. Work your way down your list as the day goes on (and as everyone is getting tired).

Also, don’t forget to check and see if there were any late additions to the fair that you didn’t know about.

Other Job Fair Tips:

  • Keep in mind that everyone at the fair job is someone you can network with.
  • Don’t waste your time with companies you have no desire to work for. You will be wasting their time as well.
  • If you have to stand in line, listen to the conversations around you. You might pick up some good information.
  • Also if you are standing in line, use your phone to do more research on the company.

I saved the best and most important tip for last:

Follow Up After the Job FairThe art of Negotiating

There are several ways you can follow up, but just make sure you pick at least one of the following ways:

  • Call the contact later that day or first thing in the morning and thank them for the opportunity to meet them at the job fair.
  • Write a Thank You Note and mail it the very next day.
  • Write a thank you email
  • Whether you mail or email a thank you, include another copy of your resume and let them know you will follow up with a call.
  • Actually follow-up your written thank you with a call a couple days after they receive your communication.

Do you have my more tips for successfully attending a job fair?

Let us know in the comments.

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