Job fairs are a great way for you to explore potential employment opportunities and learn about companies who are actively hiring in your neighborhood. Many people see it as a first interview, while others view it as an opportunity to gather information about potential employers. Regardless of what reason you have for attending, there are a few important things to keep in mind before, during, and after the job fair to make it successful.
Before the Job Fair
- Pre-register for the job fair if given the chance to.
- Find out what businesses will be there. The more information you can gather beforehand, the more successful the job fair is going to be for you. Spend some time researching the participating companies.
- What types of jobs do they have open? What kind of people are they looking for? What kind of skills do these people need to have? Check out the job fair information page to learn more about the event.
- Develop some questions you’d like to ask employers. Narrow down your list of businesses to include those who have positions you are interested in, or are businesses you think you might like to work for.
- Then list some questions to ask the company representative at the job fair.
- Proofread your resume—at least twice. If you don’t already have one, it is a good idea to put a resume together for a job fair. It gives employers a blueprint of your skills and something tangible. See Creating Resumes and Killer Cover Letters for how-to information.
At the Job Fair
- Dress the part. As with a job interview, first impressions at a job fair are important. How you represent yourself sends an immediate message to employers about how serious you are in your job search.
- It isn’t always necessary to wear a suit to a job fair—unless you are looking for a job that would require you to dress professionally at work. However, you should leave the jeans and T-shirt at home. Business casual is usually the most appropriate—slacks and a collared shirt for men, and slacks or a skirt and a blouse for women. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Avoid wearing excessive jewelry or clothing that is too short or revealing.
- Get a baby sitter. If you have children, a job fair is not an appropriate event to attend with your children. Would you take kids with you to a job interview?
- Take time to talk to employers. Don’t just drop off a resume and move to the next booth. Take time to get additional information and make an impression. The point is not to see how many resumes you can give to employers in the least amount of time—it is to establish some solid job prospects. Also, try to avoid approaching employers when they are crowded by a large group of job seekers. Approaching a crowded booth makes it difficult for employers to answer your individual questions, and they are less likely to remember you when they return to their offices.
- Do your homework. If you have done research before the job fair, you won’t have to ask what the company does. Instead, you can ask questions about a specific position or department of interest. It works to your advantage if you can tell employers how your skills match with available positions. Employers want to hire people who are genuinely interested in their company.
- Practice makes perfect. It may help to prepare a few sentences about yourself that give a brief, summarized account of who you are and why you’re interested in the position. It should be practiced until it can be said comfortably and effortlessly.
- Let employers know you are serious. Greet the employer with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout your conversation. Showing interest and good manners is important, regardless of the type of job. Every employer appreciates someone who is dedicated, conscientious and attentive.
- Some employers will request that you apply online. Many employers have an online application management system and need you to upload your resume on their website. Make sure you get the website info and get the contact information of the employer representitive so you can follow up after you apply online.
After the Job Fair
Follow-up with a thank you note. Experts agree that the follow-up is an important part of attending a job fair. If you pick up a business card, or the name of the company’s job fair representative, send a thank you note a day or two later. This is not only polite, but will let the representative know you paid attention, are serious about the job, and are the right person. Find out at the even the best way to contact the potential employer and make sure that you do not attempt to over contact them via phone email and especially text messaging.