A job fair can be an effective way to meet hiring managers and recruiters in your community and learn about many job opportunities in one day. If you are prepared and use your time wisely, you can walk away with many strong job leads. Many job seekers make careless mistakes that can hurt their chances of success at a job fair. Here are 16 simple tips to make your next job fair a success.
- Before the job fair, write and practice your personal sales pitch. Make it short. Who are you? What are your relevant skills? Something simple like: "Hi, my name is Susan Smith. I have spent the last several years perfecting the skill of making widgets. I've learned that your company hires only the best widget makers and I would love to learn more about opportunities at your company."
- Research the job fair before attending. Find out what employers will be there and do your homework. Tailor your message, and your resume to those companies.
- Dress professionally. Dress as you would for an interview. Men and women should wear a suit.
- Be prepared to be interviewed. Need help with interviews? Here are our posts on the subject.
- Bring more resumes than you think you'll need. Many times, candidates will ask if they can fax it or e-mail their resume later. It's always better to hand someone an actual resume. Some employers may not take your paper resume at a job fair so be prepared to complete an online application or get information on how to apply, but have paper resumes just in case.
- Bring business cards. Print a handful of simple business cards (Vistaprint is easy and inexpensive) with your name, phone number, e-mail address and LinkedIn profile page.
- Bring a pen and a notepad to jot down notes. Don't take notes on your smart phone or tablet.
- Bring a small bag, briefcase or purse to keep your resumes nice and un-damaged. You can also stash away all of the little things from the booths - flyers, business cards, pens, mints, notepads and other giveaways. Make sure you have a place to put all of those items so you keep a hand free for handshakes.
- Wear a name tag. If name tags are available, make sure you wear one. It will help recruiters remember your name. Always wear your name tag on your right side to make it easier to read while shaking hands.
- Have all of your application information handy. You should have all of your reference information with names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. and also all your past employment information.
- Always introduce yourself with a hand shake. Remember to keep your right hand free.
- Be courteous to fellow job seekers. Professionalism and civility go a long way. At the job fair you are on full display for potential employers; don't get caught being rude to a fellow attendee. Plus, being courteous is simply the right thing to do.
- If employers are not hiring for anything that you are qualified for, ask about other opportunities and who you may contact within the company. The worst that could happen is that you learn something new.
- Respect employers' time. Be brief. Stick your hand out and introduce yourself. Ask a few questions. Get your skills and experience across quickly. Look for cues that you have over-stayed your welcome. Job fairs can have a lot of attendees and the booths can be pretty busy. Keep it short. Make an impression, just not by being the one that won't stop talking.
- If you see an employer's table but don't get a chance to talk to anyone, make a note and follow up later.
- Follow up with everyone you met by sending a thank you card or email.
Best of luck to you at your next job fair.