Make the Most of a Job Fair

Job fairs are a great opportunity to access many employers in a short period of time. Job fairs are generally held in large public places and may target certain occupations or industries. A job fair provides the job seeker with employer information and contacts to use when applying for positions.

Employers attend fairs to increase job seeker awareness about their organization, to identify potential candidates for future hiring needs, and to fill specific positions they may currently have available. While most fairs do not present formal opportunities for individual interviews, they do provide a chance for the job seeker and employer to briefly meet, share information, and discuss potential opportunities. Your approach to a job fair should be very similar to that of an interview. The following guidelines are designed to help you make the most of a job fair experience.

1. Do some research. Before you attend a job fair, research the companies that will be attending. A list of participating companies is usually available in advance. Identify the employers that might interest you. Go to the library or online to learn more about the organizations you plan to target.

2. Polish up your resume. You should review your resume and update it if necessary. Your resume should be neat and free of errors. Your job objective should be noted and targeted to the type of employment you are seeking. If you are seeking more than one type of work, consider having several resumes. Do not include any age information such as dates of graduation. Make sure you have enough copies to give to the employers when talk to them and provide some extras.

3. Be able to sell yourself. Prepare a one-minute "commercial" about yourself that is brief, enthusiastic, and shows your strengths, skills, experience, and interest. You will have only a very short time to spark the recruiter's interest during the fair. Prepare some answers to possible questions employers may ask you. Most employers may ask "what type of job are you looking for?" You will not look prepared if you cannot answer this question. Try not to say you will take any job they have. Instead, discuss a specific job such as clerical assistant or customer service representative. If you don't want to be specific, describe your experience saying, "I have skills in answering the phone, filing and word processing and I am interested in job opportunities with your company."

4. Ask employers what they want. Prepare some questions for employers such as what opportunities are available with your company? What skills and experiences are you seeking in employees? Tell me about your application process. Do you have any information on your organization that I can take with me?

5. Make a good impression. During the job fair, dress and act professionally. Keep yourself and your materials neat and organized.

When you meet recruiters, greet them with a firm handshake. Maintain good eye contact. Remember to keep a positive attitude!

Your effort will pay off - you never know when you will have made the right contact!

Communicate quickly and succinctly; you don't want to monopolize their time. Have your resume readily available (you may want to carry resumes in a portfolio or folder). Obtain a business card, or write down names (get the correct spelling), addresses & phone numbers. Always thank the recruiter for talking with you.

6. Be courteous and follow-up. After the fair, write a letter to employers you are interested in, thanking them for their time and information.

Include another resume and any other information you may have promised to send (a completed application, writing sample, recommendations). Call to make sure the company received your application materials.

Whether or not you get the "perfect" job through a job fair, you will be able to gain knowledge about specific employers and jobs available.

The fair also gives you a chance to practice interviewing and other job seeking skills.

Informational Articles

Make the Most of a Job Fair
A Journey Through Retirement
Job Inquiries
Retirement: Consider the Possibilities
Writing a Creative Resume