Quick guide to making the most of any career fair

Jay Mava / Published February 5, 2020

Waiting In Line To Talk To A Recruiter At Job Fair



One of the first things a person should think about when looking for a job is to attend a job fair or a career fair. Many universities or colleges provide free to attend job fairs to help make that transition of student to employee all the easier. Those who are no longer in school but are still actively seeking work may be allowed to attend the same fairs for free or at a nominal fee. Regardless, the first valuable suggestion you need to know for your career search is that you must prepare yourself for the event. After all, you are competing with hundreds, possibly thousands of others attending or applying for similar positions so review this quick guide so you can make the most of any career fair you attend.



Preparation Is A Must



To begin, prepare an effective and professional resume. Use our step by step guide to make your resume stand out from the rest. It also doesn’t hurt to have a sample cover letter at the ready as well.



It may go without saying but the second most obvious thing to do is to invest in good business attire, so a nice suit or outfit that can help you look professional will really help to impress potential employers. Remember, this is a professional setting so do not wear clothes that you would wear to nightclubs or parties. Looking sharp, being clean, and having a positive attitude will create a more pleasant experience between yourself and when you interact with a potential future employer. This is your chance to create a first impression so make it a great one!



Research Companies In Advance


It helps to get to know what companies will be at the career fair. Typically, a list of companies that will be represented are usually available beforehand. With such information available, stand out from the rest by doing some homework and figure out which companies you are really interested in. Those in which you have a genuine interest will allow you to have a more effective conversation with the recruiter. The most important thing you can do to make that first positive impression on a recruiter is to have a list of specific questions about the company. The recruiter may not know the specifics of certain positions so at this point keep your questions limited and focus on creating a memorable conversation for the recruiter you are talking with.



After you have determined which companies you are interested in chatting with, check out the company’s direct website or do a search of a company through Hire Equal as more companies are added all the time. When gathering information on each company you are interested in, concentrate on the most relevant information related to the position you want. Many employers typically have general information on their webpage, such as what benefits and perks are offered, but if there is something that you want the recruiter to clarify or have further questions about, use the time talking to the recruiter and use it wisely since you may only have a few minutes to chat. After all, most recruiters goal at hiring fairs are to talk to as many potential candidates as possible so be respectful of everyone’s time.



Prioritize Who To Speak With First


Now that you have prepared all your questions and have complied your information about each company, it’s time to make a list of the companies you are most interested in by listing them in order of priority. Begin with speaking to the first one at the top of your list and head there first. Remember, career fairs typically have long lines, especially for companies that are really popular so make sure you start with the companies at the top of your list just in case you are not able to make all of them in the allotted time. Try not to talk on your cell phone right before (and of course during!) speaking to the recruiter as it may come across as disrespectful (and again, you want to make a good first impression!).



Make A Good First Impression


As you approach the recruiter, make sure you are making eye contact and extend your hand for a firm handshake. Smiling and being polite also go a long way to attract recruiters. Introduce yourself by speaking in a clear and calm voice. This is your time to shine so have a one-minute pitch/commercial about yourself. You should also maintain good eye contact and have appropriate body language. As you are interacting with the recruiter, ask relevant questions (like the questions you should have put together in advance as mentioned earlier in this article) and don’t forget to close by asking for their business card or to have further discussions on how to apply and interview for a future opportunity.



Don’t Forget To Follow Up


Just showing up at the career fair is not enough. When you finish meeting with recruiters for the day, it’s a good idea to write down notes of each interaction you had. Plus, it’s always a nice gesture to write a brief thank you note to the employers that interested you the most. It’s a small action on your end that most people don’t do and can help you stick out and remind the recruiter about you after meeting so many other individuals. You’d be surprised that this little step may lead to the next step … an interview!



Final Thoughts


You will be competing with hundreds, possibly thousands of other potential candidates at any career fair you attend. Keep in mind that recruiters are likely to attend many career fairs throughout the year and you are one out of thousands of candidates in total that are looking for only a handful of jobs per company. Stay one step ahead of the career fair game and prepare in advance so you land the job that you desire.


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