Navigating a Career Fair

Prepare, Plan and Execute

What is in a Career Fair?

Opportunity, Networking, Information, the ability to generate leads and more.

Make the most of it!

Things to Do Before the Fair:

  1. Review the list of Employers
  2. Do your research -know the products, services, clients served, etc. Review their websites. Make a cheat-sheet if you want.
  3. Dress Appropriately – Professional and clean
  4. Bring your resume – make several copies
  5. Practice your elevator speech (introduction) SMILING Required! Be aware of your body language. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  6. Determine your expectations (you are generating leads, developing your network and expanding your communication skills) You will be selling yourself in a face to face conversation.
  7. Create your own strategy
    • Who do you really want to talk with? Would you wait in line to talk with this organization?
    • Which organization would you want to just obtain information from?
  8.  Be positive, confident and put your best foot forward
  9. Make a list of questions beforehand
    • What can you tell me about the positions you are looking to fill?
    • Do you have a written job description I could take with me?
    • May I take literature on your organization?
    • Can you recommend any one I should contact to obtain more information?

During the Fair:

  1. Survey the set-up – determine your key employers and have a game plan.
  2. Approach as many employers as you can
  3. Observe the organization’s representative – Are they professional? How are they treating potential candidates? Are they paying attention to you? Remember, as much as the organization’s might be “interviewing” you, you also can observe and “interview” them.
  4. After talking with the representative, ask for a business card and make any notes on the back to help you remember and for potential future correspondence.
  5. Be polite and give others room
  6. Think about your “fit” with the different organizations. Do you have a personal values statement? Does it match or fit in with theirs?

 After the Fair:

  • Take inventory – How did it go? What did you learn? What improvements could you make? What would you di differently the next time?
  • Review the literature you obtained – research the websites and seek more information if applying for a job. Connect on LinkedIn.
  • Decide what follow-up is appropriate for you – a hand-written thank you note, an updated resume, writing sample, reference list or anything the representative might request


Successfully attend a Job Fair

When you’re job searching, take some time to attend job fairs. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with employers that you might not be able to access any other way. Plus, job fairs and career expos often offer networking programs, resume reviews, and workshops for job seekers.

What can you do to compete with the crowds attending job fairs? These tips will help you get ready to attend and maximize your opportunities while you’re there.

  • Dress for Success. Attend the job fair dressed for success in professional interview attire, and carry a portfolio. However, do wear comfortable shoes, because you will be standing in line.
  • Practice a Pitch. Practice a quick pitch summarizing your skills and experience so you’re ready to promote your candidacy to prospective employers.
  • Bring Supplies. Bring extra copies of your resume, pens, a notepad, and business cards with your name, your email address, and cell phone number. You might also want to consider bringing “mini resume” cards as an efficient way to sum up your candidacy.
  • Check Out Companies. Many job fairs and career expos have information on participating companies on the job fair web site. Be prepared to talk to hiring managers by checking out the company’s web site, mission, open positions, and general information before you go. If you demonstrate knowledge about each company or manager you’re talking to, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
  • Arrive Early. Keep in mind that lines can be long, so arrive early – before the fair officially opens.
  • Attend a Workshop. If the job fair has workshops or seminars, attend them. In addition to getting job search advice, you’ll have more opportunities to network.
  • Network. While you are waiting in line, talk to others. You never know who might be able to help with your job search. Along the same lines, remember to stay polite and professional. Even if you’re feeling discouraged in your job search, don’t vent to other fair-goers about your situation or about any specific companies. Stay positive and make the most of the opportunity!
  • Show Initiative. Shake hands and introduce yourself to recruiters when you reach the table. Demonstrate your interest in the company and their job opportunities.
  • Be Enthusiastic. Employer surveys identify one of the most important personal attributes candidates can bring to a new position as enthusiasm. This means that employers want to see you smile!
  • Ask Questions. Have some questions ready for the company representatives. The more you engage them, the better impression you’ll make.
  • Collect Business Cards. Collect business cards, so you have the contact information for the people you have spoken with.
  • Take Notes. It’s hard to keep track when you’re meeting with multiple employers in a busy environment. Jot down notes on the back of the business cards you have collected or on your notepad, so you have a reminder of who you spoke to about what.
  • Say Thank You. Take the time to send a brief follow up thank you note or email to the company representatives you met at the job fair. It’s a good way to reiterate your interest in the company and to remind company representatives that you’re a strong candidate.

By: Alison Doyle