Job and Career Fairs
Prepare Yourself for Your Career Fair Event
Job and Career Fair listings can be found all over the internet. Some are local events, for hiring in a certain area, and others are global events in which a trip may be needed.
In getting ready for a job or career fair, the first thing that you need to do is prepare yourself by looking at all of the information that you can gather. A job fair should have a web page. On this page will be listed some or all of the companies that will be represented. Some fairs are very good and will even list off the specific positions available.
Tips to get started as you look at all of the listings:
- Make a list as you go through the companies.
- Note the ones that you are interested in.
- Note the positions that are being recruited for if it is listed.
Now is the time to do a little bit of homework.
- Go to each company's page that you are interested and learn a little about the company. Check out their page for current openings.
- Don't apply online if you are going to apply at the career fair. A double application can get you moved away from consideration in some companies. Some company listings will share information about their benefits. If you are interested, look the information over.
For the companies you are not interested in, look them up online, too. Sometimes, something interesting will change your mind about a company, or a realization that there is a job there that you are qualified for.
- Pack your briefcase or bag the night before.
- Make sure to print off ample copies of your resume and bring business cards.
- Bring a lot of business cards. A lot.
- I always say to bring a notebook as well, because a good amount of companies will share information in person that is not in writing. Making notes is a good way to remember it.
Supplies to Bring to the Job Fair
Things you need for the job fair:
- Safety Pins
- Resumes or CVs
- Cover Letters
- Disposable toothbrush
- Baby Wipes in a plastic bag
I learned a trick from a friend of mine. She is a recruiter, and during job fairs, information can get muddled. She brings paperclips with her and paperclips the person's business card to a notebook and makes a small, quick note about the person. It may be something as simple as "green tie, good eye contact, call back" For the rest of the world, that may seem odd. For her, she found something about him that stood out, and what her verdict was about him. She started doing this when she discovered that business cards get lost easily in stacks of paper. When space allows it, she staples instead of paperclips.
You can employ this little technique, too. Paperclip a card to a piece of paper. Make a note. "Ask for Bob. Security Opening. Call in one week." Bring extra pens. Sometimes, they disappear. When you hand over your business card, have a paperclip on it. It makes you stand out in a good way. Mention the paperclip. "So you can clip it to my resume."
Bring safety pins in case something comes undone. Best place to store safety pins? On your key chain. You always have them if you need them, and you don't have to go digging for them. They won't spring open if they are steel. Brass ones are not good for their holding power. Put some steel safety pins on a key chain, and if you need it, there they are.
Resume and cover letter. If you are not sure of the strength of your cover letter or your resume/CV, invest in the time and money to get one done professionally. It is so very worth it, and the difference it makes is often the difference in getting a job or not. I believed that my resume was top notch because all of my friends and family told me that it looked great. When I went to a professional resume writer, she delivered the most beautiful and apt description of me and my skills contained in a resume/cv and a cover letter. The paper it was printed on was lovely, and I landed a job that very week. I am completely sold on professional writers of resumes. Make sure that your resume writer has resumes you can review. Just because someone says that they can do it does not mean that they should be used if you cannot see proof of their work.
Determine how many resumes you will need copies of. Now add at least 5 or 10 to that number. Sometimes, you will have more than one group within the same company interested in you, and other times, there are companies at job fairs that were not mentioned at the time. Bring extra. It is a small consumer of time to print a few more off.
Cover letters. Cover letters are seen by many as a waste of time and a hassle. Done right, they are a valuable tool that is underused. Want to know how valuable? I once landed a temporary job based solely on my cover letter. They actually misplaced the resume. Your cover letter should have all of your contact information on it.
The notebook is a great tool. Of course, you will use it for writing notes, but also, I have used it to write down maps to job interviews, to have a recruiter write down information when they were out of cards and materials, and to take notes when I was outside of the main area, checking my voice mail messages.
Don't forget to bring your phone and your charger. Best case scenario is like a friend of mine. They went to a job fair, and the recruiter was so impressed with them that they offered to have someone from HR call them that very hour with a job that was not yet posted. Set the phone to vibrate, charge it before you go, and bring a charger with you in case things go really well, or worst case, if you are in a building and the phone is struggling to find signal, it will drain the battery.
Snack, Drink and Mints. You never know how long you will be at the job fair. You could be there a mere 20 minutes, or you could be there all day. Plan ahead. There is no guarantee that you will be near food, or that you will have time to leave and eat. (Shortest job fair I ever heard of? 4 hours. Over 100 companies. What?!?!?!) Step outside, have a drink and a snack. Rinse your mouth. Step in the restroom and use a throwaway toothbrush. Follow up with a mint. Return to getting a job!\ looking good and smelling fresh!
Baby Wipes. Good for so many things. If something gets spilled on you. Quick removal of dust from the tops of shoes. Washing hands after snack. Carry some. They are worth the small amount of space they take up.
What to Wear
Don't wait until the morning of the event to decide on what to wear. Try it on now. If it smells, send it to the cleaners.
Everything you wear should be clean and neat. Trousers should be pressed, as should dress shirts. Jackets should have all of their buttons. You should look like an ad for a clothing store.
Ladies should wear conservative dresses or suits that don't show too much skin. Conservative shoes, and do wear stockings.
Both sexes, hair should be neat and clean, no dramatic styles. Nail length should be neat and tidy, with care taken to remove all dirt from nails.
Scents. Don't wear them.
You should not look like you are headed off for a day at the beach. You should be dressed to business impress.
The Day of the Career Fair
- Arrive on time. No matter what the starting time is, that is when you want to be there. Arrive early, get to networking immediately. If there are name labels, fill out your name neatly so that everyone can read it. This is not the time for hearts and swirls.
- Head for the companies that you are interested in first. Wait in lines, say hello, and check them off your list.
When you meet the recruiter, look them in the eye. Repeat their name as you shake their hand firmly. "Hi, I am Steve Jones with Another Company" "Hello, Steve Jones. I am John Doe. Pleased to meet you." That shows you are listening and have an eye for detail.
Answer questions thoughtfully and to the best of your ability. Leave your resume and business card. You should not take more than 5 minutes in front of any recruiter unless they are doing onsite interviews. You are not here to make friends, you are here to get a job. Look up handshake etiquette. A good handshake does not hurt, and it is not soft.
Thank each recruiter for their time, and go to the next table.
When you have covered all of the companies that were on your list, now you can freely browse and see what other companies came out. If you are interested, stop by. If you are not, then go to the other ones until you are done.
Double check your list before you leave. Make sure that you saw every company you needed to see. I was very upset when I learned that one company had three different tables at a job fair, and none of the tables were interacting with one another. I had to go and drop my information at each one, and it was a large job event, where time was of the essence.
Writing Thank You Letters When You Get Home From the Job Fair
Remember all of the business cards that you collected? From every single recruiter? Time to make yourself shine. Create a form thank you letter.
it was so nice to meet with you today to discuss the openings with your company, Rocket Sprocket and Springs. I enjoyed speaking with you a good deal, and I look forward to hearing from you.
123 Main Street
JohnDoe@ email address
Stand Out. Send the email.
Career Fair Attendees
What do you use a career fair for?
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