How to Get the Most Out of Job Fairs
by Linda Matias
Job fairs are a great way to meet potential employers. Instead of cold
calling or surfing the Internet, job fairs offer the chance to chat with hiring
managers in person and pass around your resume or business card. There are
several ways to make the most of a job fair:
What To Do Before You Get There
Make a List
Before you even arrive at the job fair, get the list of participating
employers. These can be found in the newspaper (usually in the classified job
section or business section) or online. Make a list of employers you want to
make contact and be sure to visit them first. Some employers leave job fairs
early and you don’t want to miss your opportunity to interview with them.
Conduct research on the company
Without a doubt, you definitely want to know the current company
statistics and what projects they are working on. This information can be found
online at their web site, company materials, the newspaper or the library. If
you attend the job fair without knowledge of the company, you may find yourself
in an interview at the booth, not able to answer their questions!
Update and print several copies of your resume
A few days before the job fair, spend some time updating your resume.
Once you have made updates, have someone else look over the resume and make
suggestions. After making changes, print several copies on good quality resume
paper and keep them in a folder to prevent them from getting wrinkled, stained
or torn. Also, if you have business cards, put those in your wallet to pass out,
or staple them to the corner of your resumes.
Create a sound bite
A sound bite is a brief introduction (30-90 seconds) about your
knowledge, skills and abilities. Developing a sound bite educates the listener
about your qualifications, reminds you of your qualifications, and helps you
keep your focus. It will also calm your job fair jitters. It can be intimidating
to approach employers, even in the job fair environment.
Once You Are There
Be considerate of the employer’s/recruiter’s time
Don’t monopolize their time. They want to meet as many applicants as
possible. Look for signals that you have overstayed your welcome. Non-verbal
cues may include the employer looking away, glancing at their watch or shifting
in their chair.
Network with other jobseekers
You can find out valuable information from other job seekers. Not all
jobs are advertised and your peers may be aware of job openings that you had no
Free resume critiques
Some fairs may offer resume critiques by a professional resume writer.
Be sure to stop by and drop off your resume for free professional advice!
When You Get Home
Write thank-you notes
Before you leave the fair, be sure to ask employers for their business
cards and then write a letter thanking them for their time. Most job seekers
won’t take the time to send a thoughtful note. If you do, you will stand out
from the rest.
For Those You Couldn’t Meet
If you didn’t have time to get around to all the booths, send your
resume and cover letters to those employers/recruiters you didn’t meet.
Key Points to Remember
- You will not be hired at a job fair. This is an opportunity for you to
meet employers and network. When you are approaching employers, be confident
and casual. They can sense desperation!
- You may not be interviewed at a job fair. Job fairs can have a “zoo-like”
atmosphere and may not be conducive to a formal interview.
- Remember that attending a job fair is one tool in getting a job. Keep
networking, sending out resumes and applying for jobs! Most of all, stay
positive and know your new job could be right around the corner!
Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The
National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street
Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.