Career Development Center

How to Successfully Navigate a Job Fair

Like “speed dating,” job fairs are a popular way for employers to meet and speak with many prospective employees in a short amount of time. These events can benefit both the job seeker and the employer. Unfortunately, most jobs seekers are ill-prepared to take advantage of these great opportunities.

With hundreds of other job seekers out there attending the same fairs and speaking to the same employers, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips on how to successfully navigate a job fair, to get the most out of your time, and achieve greater results.

Be prepared

If you show up unprepared and empty handed you’ll be lost in the crowd. Research the employers who are scheduled to attend a fair so that, when an opportunity arises, you can engage with them in a professional and knowledgeable conversation. Bring copies of your resume. Make sure it’s concise, professional and free of any factual, spelling or grammatical errors.

Communicate

Network with other job seekers. Exchange job hunting tips, previous experiences, personal support and/or business contacts. Be prepared to talk about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, and previous experiences. Handing over your resume is just one step in the process. Many employers look for potential employees to initiate conversation, ask questions about the company, or discuss previous work experiences. Express your interest in a second conversation or interview at a later date.

Market Yourself

You are your own strongest selling point. Present yourself as a marketable product. Dress as if you were headed to an interview. Use name tags, if available, to allow employers to quickly match your face with a name. If attending a job fair with friends, colleagues, or other acquaintances, leave them at the door and visit with employers alone. Don’t let anyone distract you from your chance to stand out! Show initiative, and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Don’t wait for an employer to take the lead.

Take Notes & Follow Up

Bring a notepad to take notes. Collect business cards, contacts, and information that you will want to remember. Always follow up with employers that interest you. Sending a short thank you note is a surefire way to show your interest in a business or employer.

Ultimately, job fairs offer an excellent opportunity to network, hand out your resume, and talk to several employers in a short amount of time. Although you probably won’t be hired on the spot, showing up prepared, confident, and knowledgeable will undoubtedly make you stand out of the crowd and enhance your chances of landing a job.