If you’re looking for a job, you may want to attend a job fair to meet many prospective employers in the same place. Job fairs are typically held on university campuses throughout the year and provide an opportunity for students and graduates to meet potential employers.
Some job fairs (also called career fairs) are general, but others focus on specific areas, such as jobs in engineering. Job fairs are aimed primarily at final-year students who are ready to start applying for jobs. However, even if you’re at the start of your university education, you might find it beneficial to attend to start researching what options are available and perhaps to find an internship.
If you’re well prepared and organized, job fairs can generate valuable leads and contacts which will assist you in your job search. Don’t expect to get hired at the job fairs – this rarely happens. Employers tend to use these events to collect resumes of candidates who are interested in their company – hopefully, this will lead to interviews in the coming days. At the same time, it’s always good to be ready for an interview in case it happens on the day!
But how do you get the most out of job fairs? Read the following 10 job fair tips to get the inside scooop.
Job Fair Tip 1: Prepare in advance
Before you go to the fair, have a look at the list of companies that will be attending. Have a look at the careers sections of their websites and review career opportunities they have available. The better prepared you are, the better and more specific questions you can ask, and candidates who’ve done their research always impress prospective employers. Also, review the directory and map of the career fair so you know where the employers you’re interested in talking to are located.
Job Fair Tip 2: Dress professionally
First impressions are important, so when you attend a job fair you’ll want to look professional. You don’t need to wear a full suit, but wearing business casual shows that you’re taking your job search seriously.
Job Fair Tip 3: Bring many copies of your resume
You’ll need these to hand out to employers. Make sure you build a resume before the fair, and that you bring more copies of your resume than you think you need. Also make sure that they are clean and unwrinkled. If you happen to have a business card, bring a stack of those as well.
Job Fair Tip 4: Arrive as early as possible
Doing so will give you a chance to talk to many employers before it gets really busy – fairs are busiest during the lunch hour.
Job Fair Tip 5: Decide which employers you’re most interested in
If you have enough time, you might want to start with those companies you are least interested in. This will allow you to get over any initial nerves and feel more confident when you approach the companies you’d really like to work for.
You should anticipate meeting a lot of people at a job fair, so taking notes will help you keep all of the information straight when it’s over.
Job Fair Tip 6: Introduce yourself
Obviously, you’ll want to shake hands and tell employers your name, but you’ll also want to be prepared to give a brief but memorable introduction. Have your resume ready to give to the employer and make sure you can clearly explain what you’re looking for in your career, as well as how your academic experiences are relevant to what they are looking for.
Job Fair Tip 7: Always take notes
You should anticipate meeting a lot of people at a job fair, so taking notes will help you keep all of the information straight when it’s over. Also, taking notes about your interactions will help you remember follow-up questions you’d like to ask the recruiter (since the representative at the fair may not be directly involved in hiring). At minimum, write down any names or phone numbers or any information you hear on the day in your notepad. Also, get the name of the person you should contact for follow-up discussions after the job fair.
Job Fair Tip 8: Ask before taking any samples or giveaways
Some companies will bring “giveaways” intended for students to take. Common items are notepads, pens, brochures or samples of the company’s products. Always check with employers before taking anything from their tables. It shows good manners.
Job Fair Tip 9: Be courteous and show a positive attitude
No one wants to hire a dour dud. Smile and show enthusiasm during your conversations. Also, keep your questions brief as there will likely be a long list of students wanting to talk to the same employers.
Job Fair Tip 10: Follow up (and say Thank You)
You have your notes from various conversations, and you’ve handed out your resume to anyone who has accepted it — you’re on the right track! But one job fair tip that a lot of beginners forget is following up with a thank-you note or email. This tip is critical to follow if you want to get results from your efforts at a job fair. Send thank-you notes to people you spoke to and add them to LinkedIn within a couple of days after the fair. When you send your request, add a personalized note to remind them that you met at the career fair.
If you’ve discussed any specific roles with recruiters, send your resume via email with a brief cover note reminding them of the conversation and emphasizing what you can bring to their company. If there are no suitable positions available right now, you can always ask the recruiter if you can come in for an informational interview. By attending a career fair, you’ll get to meet lots of different potential employers in the same place and have a fantastic opportunity to network – a great chance to progress your job search in the right direction!
Final Job Fair Tip
Remember that a stand-out resume is critical for success at a career fair, and that learning how to write a resume properly is a crucial first step. You might also want to have a look at our resume examples for inspiration. If you need more help, consider using one of the resume templates available via LiveCareer.