A career fair (also known as job fair) is an organized event that gives you the opportunity to talk face-to-face with recruiters and hiring managers about potential job openings.
Leave a good first impression on employers at a fair, so they will want to call you for an interview.
Your goal should be to differentiate yourself from the other job seekers who attend. You want employers to remember you and contact you for an interview.
It is important that you treat a job fair as seriously as you would a job interview.
Just like in an interview, you have to be prepared, dressed professionally, and know what you are going to say before you get there.
There is more to it than just passing out a bunch of resumes. If you want to be successful at a career fair, it is imperative that you stand out from the crowd.
The suggestions on this page should assist you in doing that.
Locate fairs in your area:
Find out which companies will be at the job fair. Go to each company's website and learn as much as you can about the open positions, and their application process.
If you are qualified for an open position, apply for the position using the instructions on the site. Apply online if the option is available.
As you speak to the recruiter, express your interest in the position, mention the fact that you have applied, and tell them how you are a good fit for the job.
This is your opportunity to stand out from the attendees who have no idea what positions the company has open.
If you were not able to find open positions on the company's website, be prepared to talk about your job experience, qualifications and how you can make a difference in their organization.
Depending on the size of the job fair, you may not be able to talk to every employer. If you know which employers will be there, make a list of the ones that you know you want to talk to, and approach them first.
Update your resume. Print multiple copies and give a copy to each of the employers that you speak with. After the job fair, recruiters typically review the resumes that they have collected. Make sure yours is in that stack.
Take a portfolio or professional-looking folder and place copies of your resume, blank paper, and a pen inside.
Dress professionally as if you are going to a job interview. Wear a business suit with a collared shirt. You want your attire to say that you are professional, and that you put forth effort to make a good impression.
If you fail to wear a suit, you risk that the employer may not perceive you as professional. It is not worth the risk.
It is better to be over-dressed (too formal) than under-dressed (too casual).
Know what you are going to say before you get there. Practice a "speech" to quickly sell yourself and your qualifications. Include...
Practice this information multiple times in the days leading up to the job fair. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to listen to you and critique your speech to make sure that it sounds natural.
When speaking to a recruiter, maintain eye contact so that you appear to be interested in the conversation and interested in working for the company.
You will speak to many different employers in one day, so make every conversation important.
Talk to recruiters about what you can do for them and their company… not what they can do for you.
Ask employers for their business cards so that you can follow up with them.
Some companies interview on the spot. Prepare for an interview before you go to the job fair. Be prepared to as answer commonly asked interview questions.
Contact the employers who gave you business cards. Call or e-mail them within 24 hours. Thank them for speaking with you at the career fair. Remind them who you are and how you can add value to the company or to the job.
Focus on how you can use your skills and qualifications to help their organization.
Most job seekers do not follow up with employers after the job fair, so this simple gesture can help you to stand out from the crowd.
You want to leave good first impressions on the employers and leave them wanting to call you for an interview.
Attending career fairs is just one of many job search strategies. Make sure you use more than one strategy to expand your options.
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