How to Prepare for a Job Fair

by Travis Webb on September 29, 2016

Woman distributing resume at job fair employment eventYou’ve signed up to attend a job fair and now your nerves are getting the best of you. Don’t worry – that’s normal! You could meet your future employer, and you’ll definitely be making some new career contacts. So how do you get rid of those job fair jitters? You prepare! In my experience recruiting at job fairs, these are some of the ways I’ve noticed successful attendees prepare for the event.

Have Multiple Copies of Your Resume

Most companies will send multiple representatives to a job fair. That means instead of just speaking with one person from each employer, you may be speaking with multiple people. Prevent the awkward situation of having the company’s representatives share your resume by bringing more than one copy of your resume so each person you speak with can have their own to reference. It shows that you plan ahead, which is a desirable critical thinking skill for tech employers.

Get Your Elevator Pitch Ready

You’ll be talking about yourself – a lot – at a job fair. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t be shy! Tell me about your relevant accomplishments and experience. I don’t need to know that you won a pie eating contest, but I do want to hear about the hackathon you just participated in. You’ll usually spend about 5 minutes with each potential employer. Make each one count by identifying why you are the right person for their company and highlighting the skills you possess that prove it.

Research Employers

Get a list of companies who will be participating in the job fair in advance so you can learn about their industries and what they’re working on. See if they’ve been in the news lately, and build some conversation points around what’s relevant to them and what they do. You don’t want to ask questions about the company you could answer with a search engine – you want to ask insightful questions based on your knowledge of the company to make sure it’s a good fit.

Do a Practice Interview

When you speak with employers at a job fair, it’s your first interview with the company. Going through the exercise of a mock interview with a friend or mentor helps you brush up on your responses to interview questions and get some additional feedback before the job fair arrives. If you want to be extra ready, research possible interview questions in advance of your practice interview so you can share thoughtful responses.

Prepare Your Attire the Night Before

The morning of your job fair, you want to be in the right mindset. Not being able to find your shoes or scrambling to steam your wrinkled suit can throw your day off. Taking the time to select your job fair attire the night before  and ensuring that it’s ready to wear will keep your schedule on track and help you get into the right mentality to meet potential employers.

After the Job Fair

Your work isn’t over yet! Following up with the recruiters and hiring managers you meet helps to keep you top of mind. If they weren’t hiring for a role you were interested in, even more reason to reach out: an opportunity could have become available since you spoke with them last. Don’t just reach out once, engage in conversation to truly maintain a relationship. Your career is all about connections, and this is a great way to build them.

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