Four Steps to a Successful Job Fair

Have you been wondering if attending a job fair is worth your time? Or worse, have you been to one and felt it was useless?

Job Fairs have a place in your job search plan – but only if you know how to work them effectively. And far too many attendees do not, they just show up.

First step:
Select a job fair which offers you access to employers you have targeted in your job search plan. If employers which interest you and have the jobs you want are not going to attend, there is no reason for you to attend either!

Second step:
Do your homework! Look at the list of participating employers. Check out those matching your goals. Look at the jobs they are looking to fill at the job fair. Also go to their websites and check out the careers section and see what jobs appeal. Research the companies and see if they look like worthwhile targets for your goals.

Once you have selected and reviewed all those which appeal to you:
– make a list of which employers you want to talk to at the job fair,
– add specific jobs for each targeted employer, and
– create a short summary introduction showing what you offer that employer.

These actions show a potential employer that you are a focused, well-prepared candidate who offers potential value to them!

Third step:
Polish your resume so it is the best possible version. Ensure you have the right keywords for the job you want. And submit this ‘best’ version when you register for the job fair, even if you already have a version in their system. That way employers will get your best ‘ad’ when they review the resumes.

Don’t forget to bring resumes on the day of the job fair, too!

Fourth step:
Dress for success. You do not want to be the candidate all the recruiters are discussing over lunch – as in ‘did you see…. the guy in shorts, the woman in the sheer blouse, the comb-over’!

If you are seeking a professional position wear a suit, business separates, or dress. Make sure it fits, is clean and comfortable. If you are looking for a technician or skilled labor job, a shirt and trousers/skirt is an option too. Check your grooming.

Yes, all that sounds pretty basic – almost insulting. But I mention it because of all the candidates who show up looking clueless. If you do not present yourself as a business-oriented valuable person, you hurt your options.

Carry your notes, resumes, business cards, and anything else you need in an easy to access folder or bag. Fumbling through a backpack or big purse lessens your positive impact.

And finally, do some networking while you are at the job fair. Whether you are grabbing a cup of coffee or waiting in line or stopping at a seminar – take a moment to talk to those around you. You may find a great resource into a company you have targeted, or someone who knows of just the right opportunity for you. And you will reduce your own nervousness by being kind to another nervous job seeker!

Don’t forget the thank-you notes and follow-up after the job fair.

All these steps and tips make you into the candidate “we have got to get.” And so a “job fair” becomes real “job options,” worth the time and effort you invested.

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Specialist. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

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Dick Davies

The fifth step: Bring the most interesting people to join GovLoop. Tell them the benefit, get their cards and invite them.

Oh, and go easy about the comb-over!

Corey McCarren

I’m a fan of that 5th step, Dick! Events like job fairs are definitely just a waste of time if the attendee is ill-prepared, and those steps, though basic, are musts if an attendee wants to be taken seriously.

Kathleen Smith

Good to see some interesting comments. Yes, you must be prepared and share some tidbits with your fellow job seekers or networkers about other avenues like GovLoop that you have found of benefit.