Why Job Fairs Still Matter and How to Make the Most of Them

Despite what some may believe, job fairs are actually still a relevant and beneficial component in today’s job market, according to many experts.  They also hold a strong aspect of efficiency, since only at a job fair, can a job seeker make a successful first impression on not just one, but multiple employers in a single setting.

In a culture that is steeped in virtual and electronic communication, job fairs offer employers and job seekers the ability to communicate face-to-face, which still remains an integral factor in the pre-hiring process.

Job Fairs - word cloud

While notice of many job fair events may spread throughout your online social and professional network, websites such as Jobfairsin.com, allow job seekers to search for specific and applicable job fairs in their location of choice.

Once you have decided upon the job fair you are attending, there are several guidelines that will ensure you are prepared and equipped to make the best impression possible.

Research first.

Learn which companies will be in attendance, decide upon which ones you are most interested, and do some online research.  Employers attending a job fair in search of qualified talent expect that you will know something about their company prior to attending.  A simple visit to their website and LinkedIn profile is certainly not difficult, and can help you toward making a great first impression.  One tip is to bring up one of the details you researched, and ask the representative to elaborate some more on the topic.

Dress the part.

When it comes to your choice of wardrobe, the same rules that apply to job interviews also apply to job fairs.  However, at a job fair, you also want to be sure you stand out among the masses, so consider investing in some sharp new interview-friendly garments, if your budget allows.  Also, never leave home with wrinkled clothing, scuffed or worn shoes, or over-the-top accessories or jewelry.

Plan ahead.

While you are most likely going to be focused on the employers you researched, leave some extra time for the unexpected.  There is always the possibility that you will come across a company which peaks your interest out of the blue, so be sure to bring extra resumes, as well as a healthy snack to maintain your energy level throughout the day.

Be introduction-ready.

Often an employer will ask you to speak briefly about yourself and your background, so make sure that you’re prepared with a concise statement that explains in a nutshell, who you are professionally.  If an employer asks where you currently work, and you happen to be unemployed at the time of the job fair, opt for sharing what skills and expertise you gained at your “most recent place of employment”.  Whatever your status, remember that company representatives are likely meeting hundreds of job candidates at just one job fair, so be sure to lead with your strongest attributes to remain memorable.

Job Fair - job candidates in line

Maintain enthusiasm and focus.

Remember that appropriate eye contact, a smile, a firm handshake, and an approachable conversation style is the best way to initiate a meeting with a company representative. Displaying your enthusiasm and staying focused on the respective job opening is important, as is avoiding discussions regarding details of your own job search, etc.  Remain confident, and remember that the representative you’re speaking to is either a hiring manager or HR representative for a specific company, not a career counselor.

Engage in smart networking.

You may have made several promising connections, but if you don’t exchange the proper information and stay organized, you are likely to miss out on a great opportunity.  Don’t leave an employer’s booth without receiving a business card, and be sure to have a safe place to store the ones you’ve gathered.  Also, remember that your resume is not only an indicator of your job qualifications, but also serves as your contact sheet, so be sure all phone numbers, websites, and any other points of communication are clear and correct.

Follow up.

Similarly to how you would follow up after a job interview, you will also follow up with the career representatives you spoke with at the job fair.  A phone call or a brief email, thanking them for taking the time to speak with you, reiterating your interest in the position, as well as the basic qualifications most applicable to the position (to help them identify you) is sufficient.  Additionally, if the any of the company websites offer an online job application, you are giving yourself a double-advantage by completing it and even mentioning that you met with one of their representatives at the recent job fair.

The Takeaway

Job fairs can certainly be nerve-wracking, based on the sheer volume of employers and job seekers in attendance; all with the same goal of seeking important opportunities and meaningful professional connections.  However, remembering your ultimate goal and striving to make a stellar impression on each company representative by following the guidelines we’ve mentioned, will ensure that you leave your next job fair with some amazing new career prospects.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

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