There are those who think that job fairs are outdated, but experts say they’re not dead, and certainly not useless. Job fairs are important for everyone to attend because they are a great way to meet with local professionals and find ways to become more involved in your community. It is also a good way for you see what’s out there.
Attending a job fair can open doors and help you find a career within a company you may not have thought about looking into. You also may find a company at a job fair that does not advertise open positions online, but is looking to fill a position for which you are qualified.
While it would be ideal to get hired on the spot, this shouldn’t necessarily be your goal. Part of the job fair experience is having an opportunity to take part in the various networking opportunities, get your resume reviewed and seek out new knowledge from the workshops being offered. Also, job seekers should use these events to make positive first impressions and learn more about companies and what it’s like to work for them.
Meeting and interacting with recruiters face to face is still an important part of the job search process. A job fair offers job seekers a unique opportunity to make personal connections that are impossible when submitting a resume or application online.
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing job fairs automatically. These 7 tips will help you to get the most value from attending these events.
Devise a Plan for the Job Fair
Know which employers’ you want to talk to ahead of time, and prioritize them. Participating employers are usually listed on the event’s website and other media. By knowing who is going to be there, you’ll save yourself time. Otherwise, you may spend the entire time walking around aimlessly collecting useless giveaways from the vendors’ display tables. You also want to leave some time for “wild cards,” those employers who may catch your attention while you are circulating.
Take Plenty of Resumes
Always take printed copies of your resume to a job fair, even if you’ve already submitted your resume to the company in advance online. Make it easy for the employer to glance at your resume while speaking to you. If you’re looking for more than one type of position, you will need different versions of your resume. Make sure each resume is tailored to the job that you want. This doesn’t mean you need an individualized resume for each employer at the job fair. It just means that you should not hand the employer a resume that has nothing to do with that kind of work.
Having the different versions of your resume labeled and easy to access allows you to be more efficient as well. Remember, you don’t have a lot of time at these events.
Research Employers of Interest
Doing a little research before arriving at the job fair will give you a competitive edge. The more you know about an organization and the types of positions they hire for, the better you will come across to the employer.
When you research the companies that are expected to attend the fair beforehand, you may surprise them with your knowledge as well as impress them with the initiative you took to research the company’s mission, purpose, and clients served.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions about Yourself
Most people who have been on a job interview have heard the infamous opening question, “Tell me about yourself.” You don’t want to stumble around on this. Be prepared to state your name, a brief statement about yourself, and why you’re interested in the organization you’re talking to. You have about 30 seconds to make an impression before the recruiter is on to the next person.
A job fair is more than gathering information and cool trinkets. You have to always make sure you’re prepared for an impromptu interview.
Follow Up with a Phone Call or By Email
Be prepared to follow up with the recruiters soon after you meet them. Ask for a business card, and send thank you emails. A job fair is all about the personal touch. It gets you right in front of the company. If executed correctly, a job fair can get you far closer than just applying online. A job fair is also a great way to discover new companies, ask questions, get career advice, and meet other candidates that are also on the job hunt.
Maximize, Maximize, Maximize!
The lines at a job fair might be intimidating but don’t fail to maximize this opportunity. Talk to every company that is a good fit for your experience and goals. If you meet with 20 employers, at the end of the day you will know at least 20 people by name. That sure beats sending a blind resume to Human Resources or an online pool with hundreds of applicants in it!
Keep in mind that a job fair is a social event as well. It’s not just about collecting business cards and handing out resumes; it’s about meeting new people and finding connections so they remember you later.
Know the Dress Code
Each job fair has its own styles and traditions. Some are business casual; some suggest or require interview attire. You also want to be sure to carry a portfolio or some type of folder to keep all
of your documents safe. However, do wear comfortable shoes, because you will be doing plenty of walking and standing in lines.
First impressions count!
If you look at these events with an open mind, a sense of adventure, and as an opportunity to learn, you are maximizing your involvement.