Preparing for a job fair

A job fair is a great place to meet with employers, interact with other job seekers, and to attend career seminars to improve your job search. Some tips on how to make the most of your day:

  1. Bring copies of your resume. 30 or more just to be safe. Make sure your resume highlights your accomplishments, is easy to read, and is free of typos.
  2. Don’t forget a pen. Some job fairs include handbooks about the employers and their positions, which is a good place to make notes.
  3. Execute a 30-second elevator speech. You need to be able to concisely communicate your career goals and relevant experience. Practice this a few times.
  4. Research the employers. Do background research just as you would for an official job interview so you can ask questions that help you and the recruiter better understand your interest.
  5. Talk to as many employers as you can. Don’t just concentrate on well-known employers. Expand your experience to employers that you may not be as familiar with. You have nothing to lose and may be surprised at what you find.
  6. Attend career seminars. Some job fairs include include career seminars such as interviewing tips or expanding your network. Take advantage of them.
  7. Be positive. Yes you’re probably nervous, but a smile and a firm handshake go a long way. Smile and offer your hand when you introduce yourself.

Some things not to do:

  1. Don’t carry a backpack, large purse or other extraneous items with you. Carry your resume in a professional portfolio or small briefcase.
  2. Don’t dress casually. Professional attire is best.
  3. Don’t come too late. You don’t want to be rushed, so leave yourself plenty of time to compose yourself and talk to as many employers as you can.

Things you’ll have after a job fair:

  1. Business cards from the recruiters you met. Be sure to write a thank you note to each recruiter you talked to. You can even be old-fashioned and handwrite!
  2. Clarity. If you talked to employers and attended career seminars you should know more than you did when you arrived.
  3. Self-confidence. A career fair lets you practice interviewing in a less formidable environment as well as increase your knowledge about the current job market.

Watch these videos from three recruiters who talk about preparing for a job fair:

And from HR Strategist Patra Frame:

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Wow – great tips, Kathleen! I always lug around a laptop bag…didn’t realize it could be detrimental to the job search. What’s the perception problem there?