While you will need a strong resume for any job fair, don’t forget – attending a job fair is not just about submitting your resume. It’s about socializing and networking with the representatives of the companies and showing off your communication skills.
In order to do those things confidently, you MUST do your homework in advance and follow these 5 steps for a successful job fair experience.
Step 1: Update or create your resume.
You will need a strong resume to hand out to employers. Bring plenty of copies in a professional-looking folder. The resume copies can be on normal printer paper, but spending money on nice resume paper can help you make a great first impression.
Step 2: Research the companies attending the fair.
Learn about their open positions, mission statement, product lines, competition, and locations around the world. Create a list of questions to ask the representative about the positions. Yes, you need to research EACH company you are interested in! This is a lot of work, but it will help you stand out from all the other people also trying to impress the recruiters.
Step 3: Dress and act professionally.
Create a great first impression by smiling, making eye contact, and firmly shaking the hand of each recruiter or employer you meet. Ladies: wear a pant suit or skirt suit and sensible dress shoes that are polished. Men: wear a suit and tie and polished dress shoes.
Step 4: Socialize and network.
Be ready to answer questions the representatives might ask you about your background, skills, and goals. Tell them how and why you are a good fit for the position. Have a conversation with each rep about your education, degree, and major; related work and/or volunteer experience; relevant industry organizations that you’re a member of; and professional interests and the kind of work you want to do.
Keep in mind that some employers may not take resumes. They will ask you to go online and apply. Understand that some companies are “paperless” and simply proceed with your socializing, networking, and your prepared questions. DO NOT JUST WALK AWAY! You never know what opportunities you will gain by networking with them. Finally, ask about the next step in the interview/hiring process so you can prepare for it.
Step 5: Follow up.
Call or email each employer you spoke with. Identify yourself that you spoke at the X job fair on Y date at the Z location. Bring up something specific you talked about – maybe something you learned or something that interested you. Communicate that you are interested in the position and look forward to the next stop in the process.