Job Fair Checklist
Attending a career fair for the first time can be a little overwhelming; however, if you prepare you will get as much out of the event as you put into it.
Employers expect you to be prepared (dress professionally, ask thoughtful questions, have a polished resume, etc.).
Your goal should be to land an interview—not a job offer. Most recruiters are not authorized to hire candidates on the day of the fair.
You should expect to have a relatively short amount of time to sell yourself and make a positive impact on the employer. Employers’ goals are to be exposed to as many job candidates as possible.
Before the Job Fair
- Develop a Strong Resume: Highlight your skills and accomplishments. Your resume should be error-free, concise and graphically pleasing. Bring at least fifteen copies and keep them in a folder so they remain neat and clean.
- Target Your Top Companies/Organizations: Research the organizations in which you are most interested. Take this list and plan your strategy for which companies you would like to visit.
- Develop an Elevator Pitch: You step into the career fair and make your way toward a representative from the top-ranked company on your job-search list. What can you say and do during the next 60 seconds to make this recruiter want to explore hiring you? Learn to sell yourself by creating an elevator pitch, and make sure you practice it!
During the Job Fair
- Introduce Yourself and Shake Hands: In many ways, a career fair is a test of your social skills. While employers are almost always friendly and outgoing, they'll expect the same of you. If you haven't done much ice breaking before, practice in advance with a career counselor or friend.
Introduction: Introduce yourself, offer a firm handshake and a resume.
Objective: Tell the employer why you are there and what sort of employment you seek.
Summary: Briefly summarize education, experience, strengths, etc.
Closing: Reiterate your interest and thank the employer.
- Dress Appropriately: In most cases, you'll want to dress professionally to attend a career fair. When in doubt, overdress.
- Ask Intelligent Questions: If you've studied up on the organizations, you'll probably have some questions you'd like to ask. Not only will you get some answers, but you'll also show yourself to be someone who does his research.
- Ask one or two meaningful questions without monopolizing the employer’s time. Do not ask about salary at this time
- Network with everyone: View other job seekers as valuable networking contacts, not as competition.
- Focus on What You Can Offer: You'll be a refreshing change to most company representatives if you tell them what you can do for them and their organizations instead of asking what they can do for you.
- Leave Your Resume and Card with Each Representative: Then be sure to grab each representative's card.
After the Job Fair
- Take Notes: After the fair concludes, jot down notes about conversations you had with company representatives. If you wait too long, the conversations will start running together in your head, and you'll forget what you said to whom.
- Follow Up on Promises: If, for example, a company representative expressed interest in looking at your Web site, make sure to email the URL like you said you would.
- Send Thank-You Notes: Write or email each of the people you met and thank them for their time. Reiterate your interest in the company and your relevant skills and experience. Most job seekers fail to take this simple step, often losing out in the end to those who did express their thanks.
There will be few other times in your life when employers will make such a concerted bid to get your attention so when they participate in a nearby career fair, make the most of the opportunity to present yourself favorably, gather useful information and meet new contacts. Your small investment of time and effort -- before, during and after -- might very well turn into an opportunity you wouldn't have otherwise had.