Carl B. Forkner, Ph.D.
There are job or career fairs happening nearly every day somewhere in America. If you live in a major metro area, chances are that you can find at least one each week to attend. But the real questions are whether the event is worth your time and whether you are prepared for it.
Many people feel that a job fair is a waste of time. Job fairs or career fairs are great opportunities to meet employers. Where else can you see so many employers in one location, or be seen by them? Participating companies pay for a spot to provide information on their industry and organizations, as well as their current job openings.
Job fairs are also a great educational opportunity because you can find out what employers are looking for in terms of skills, experience, education, and certifications. Here is how you should prepare:
- Before you attend the job fair, identify the companies, who will be there, that you are interested in seeing. Go to their website to research the companies and the positions that you are interested in. Prepare to discuss your skills that match those skills listed in the job description.
- Register in advance for the job fair if possible. It may save time.
- Prioritize a list of employers that you want to meet. Place the most popular ones early in the day before the long lines develop.
- Create a 30-second overview of your skills, accomplishments, and goals.
- Dress for Success. It may be tempting to dress in jeans and sneakers because you will be on your feet quite a bit but keep in mind that you are meeting a potential employer, an HR manager or at least a recruiter for the company. All are important people.
- Bring many copies of your resume. Telling an employer that you didn’t bring a resume to a job fair will probably eliminate your chances of being taken seriously. Carry them in a neat folder so they won’t get crumpled and wrinkled. Bring a few extra copies. Don’t expect the job fair to provide you with the means to make copies.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask the employers of interest. This will show them that you did your homework and are serious about working for them.
- Arrive early to the career fair. This enables you to map out the locations of the employers that you want to see. Some of these events host 50 to 100 employers. Once the room starts to fill up it may be difficult to locate the booths.
- As you walk around the event you also want to identify employers who are interviewing. It may be a good idea to gather their information and find a corner to read it before trying to get an interview.
- Before you leave the event, make one more contact with the employers of interest. Thank them for their time and let them know you will be in touch with them. You may want to send a thank you note and remind them of your skills and interest in a job.
Do you want to learn more about how to work Job Fairs?
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