Job fairs are generally hosted by industry organizations, universities, or a combination of organizations such as government workforce and nonprofit entities. They can be huge, with hundreds of employers and thousands of candidates. Or they may be much smaller, catering to a specific type of company and job applicants with narrowly focused experience, skills, and interests.
To successfully manage your job fair attendance, focus on the following steps.
- Show up early. Give yourself time to look over your research on each of the companies and available positions. Punctuality is an attribute that every company seeks.
- Come alone. Do not come to a job fair and expect to make an excellent impression if you bring your best friend, your neighbor, or your child. You need to be able to focus on your targeted positions and make the best impression possible. A job fair is NOT the time to have a wing man!
- Introduce yourself with confidence. Depending on the type of job fair, you may be meeting with a variety of companies or many companies all from the same field or industry. Do not memorize a speech; your introduction should change based on the company and the position. Be sure that you have a solid introduction that incorporates these aspects:
- Your name
- Why you are interested in their company
- Why you are interested in that position
- How you can help them through your education, experience, and skills
- Ask an open-ended question that allows the recruiter to talk
- Listen to what the recruiter says – focus so you don’t miss information
- Utilize your research. Now is the opportunity to use all that information you gained by reading company websites and press releases. Do not ask questions that you should know the answers to because they are clearly answered on the website. Dig deeper and ask questions that demonstrate your research and interest.
- Manage yourself so you are organized and purposeful. Arrange your resumes, research, and notes into an easy-to-find system. Take time before meeting with a recruiter to ready yourself – have a copy of your resume in your hand. Keep business cards in your pocket to easily exchange with recruiters. After each interaction, take notes on the company, the recruiter, and the position. These notes will help with the thank you emails you send out the next day.