How to Make the Most Out of Job Fairs

by: Linda Matias

Job fairs are a great way to meet potential employers. Unlike cold calling or surfing the Internet, job fairs offer the chance to chat with hiring managers in person and pass around your resume or business card. Use these tips to make the most of job fairs.

Make a List
Before you even arrive at the job fair, get the list of participating employers. These can be found in a the newspaper (usually in the classified job section or business section) or online. Make a list of employers you want to contact and be sure to visit them first. Some employers leave job fairs early and you don’t want to miss your opportunity to interview with them.

Conduct research on the companines you are interested in
Without a doubt, you will want to know the current statistics for the companies you’re looking at as well as what projects they are working on. This information can be found online at their website, in their company materials, in the newspaper or at the library. If you attend the job fair without knowledge of the companies you like, you may find yourself in an interview at the booth, unable to answer questions such as “What do you know about our company?”

Update and print several copies of your resume
A few days before the job fair, spend some time updating and polishing your resume. Once you have made updates, have someone else look over the resume and make suggestions. After making changes, print several copies on good quality resume paper and keep them in a folder to prevent them from getting wrinkled, stained or torn.

Create a sound bite
A sound bite is a brief introduction (30-90 seconds) about your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Developing a sound bite educates the listener about your qualifications, reminds you of your qualifications, and helps you keep your focus. It will also calm your job-fair jitters. It can be intimidating to approach employers, even in the job fair environment.

Once you are there
Be considerate of the employer’s / recruiter’s time. Don’t monopolize their time. They want to meet as many applicants as possible. Look for signals that you have overstayed your welcome. Non-verbal cues may include the employer looking away, glancing at his watch or shifting in his/her chair.

Network with other jobseekers
You can find out valuable information from other job seekers. Not all jobs are advertised and your peers may be aware of job openings that you had no knowledge of.

Free resume evaluations
Some fairs may offer resume critiques by a professional resume writer. Be sure to stop by and drop off your resume for free professional advice.

When you get home
Write thank you notes. Before you leave the fair, be sure to ask employers for their business cards and then write a letter thanking them for their time. Most job seekers won’t take the time to send a thoughtful note. If you do, you will stand out from the rest.

For those you couldn’t meet
If you didn’t have time to get around to all the booths, send your resume and a personalized cover letter to those employers / recruiters you didn’t meet.

Key points to remember
– You will not be hired at a job fair. This is an opportunity for you to meet employers and network. When you are approaching employers, be confident and casual. They can sense desperation.

– You may not be interviewed at a job fair. Job fairs can have a zoo-like atmosphere and may not be conducive to a formal interview.

– Remember that attending a job fair is one tool in getting a job. Keep networking, sending out resumes, and applying for jobs! Most of all, stay positive and know your new job could be right around the corner.