So you’re thinking of going to a job fair. Smart move—job fairs can be incredibly useful when you’re looking for your next position.
But do you know how to stand out from the crowd of people competing for the same spotlight?
Here are our top tips to help you put your best foot forward.
Do your research and keep an open mind
Depending on what job fair you go to, there could be anywhere from a dozen to ten dozen employers in attendance. A list of participating companies is usually posted in advance. Look up every company and see what each has to offer. Then plan out which booths you will stop at. You may be thinking, this sounds like a lot of work—it is. But you could be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Maybe a small engineering firm you’ve never heard of has the unlimited PTO and take your dog to work policy you’ve been dreaming about.
Prepare for each interaction
Job fairs can be very intimidating, especially for first-timers. Remember, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. If you procrastinated and the job fair is in less than an hour, don’t stress. You still have time to look up the employers that have been high on your radar. But after you’ve hit those booths, spend more time walking around and checking out other companies.
Job Fair Packing Checklist
- At least two pens—if your ink runs low or you forget your pen at a table, you’ll thank yourself for packing an extra one instead of asking a recruiter to borrow theirs.
- Copies of your resume—this is your chance at an on-the-spot interview and employers need to know what your job history looks like before they can consider you. Plan to hand out at least two resumes to every company you speak with, plus a few extra.
- Business appropriate clothing—you wouldn’t believe how many people we’ve seen walk through the door with rubber slippers and a tube top. Save those for your next beach day, and come dressed as you would to a formal interview.
Love checklists? Here’s one more to help you along: Job Search Checklist
If you snagged an interview with a prestigious company, would you invite your BFF to come along and sit in the lobby? No way! Treat job fairs with similar regard. A job fair is basically a series of mini-interviews with your (hopefully soon-to-be) next employer. If someone you know is also in the job market, it’s alright to carpool to the event but you should not walk up side-by-side to apply for the same position. You want to give the recruiter your full attention without being distracted or giving them the impression that you can’t do anything alone.
Go easy on the freebies
Employers often load their tables with freebies and swag items to entice you to visit their booth. Just remember, you’re here to find a job, not collect free gifts. Trust us, employers notice when you take a pen for yourself, your cousin, and ten of your friends. Ignore the giveaway items on the table until after you’ve spoken with the company. As you’re leaving, you can take one item if you feel so inclined. Don’t forget to say thank you as you walk away!
Scenarios and Questions to Prepare For
Follow up after the job fair
If you gave a recruiter your resume at the job fair, you shouldn’t sit around waiting for them to call. If they gave you specific instructions like “apply online,” follow through with that. If they told you they would be in touch, it would still be a nice gesture to send them a note, thanking them for their time. (See: The Right Way to Follow Up After an Interview)
If you’re serious about finding a job you love, stop by the booth of a staffing company, like ALTRES Staffing. Unlike other companies at the job fair, a staffing company’s specialty is matching job hunters with employers, like an eHarmony for careers.
The best part? ALTRES Staffing is 100% free and confidential, so your old job will never have to know you’re looking for greener pastures. See you at the career fair!