Many business owners and employees think job fairs are a complete waste of time. They feel like the “speed dating” approach to hiring or getting hired is vain and may lead to huge mistakes. On the other hand, job fairs are a perfectly good opportunity for job hunters to make contact with potential employers and for businesses to attract talent their way.
The most common misconception about job fairs is this one: they are for students and recent grads. No. In addition to campus-sponsored job fairs and career days, you may also attend commercial professional and specialty job fairs. These types of job fairs are focused towards a specific range of professions and specialties.
A job fair can be a great opportunity for anyone looking for a new job, and it’s great for any company trying to fill any position.
Let’s focus on the candidates this time. Should you look into job fairs when looking for a new job? Absolutely. We’ll tell you why and how to do that.
Why Should You Give Job Fairs a Chance?
If you’re thinking that a job fair would be a waste of time, you should think again. We’ll give you a few good reasons to consider them:
- You’ll add professional contacts to your LinkedIn network.
- You’ll get some feedback on your resume.
- You’ll meet company representatives that are not easy to reach.
- The less formal setting allows you to express your personality.
- You’ll learn tons about the target industry if you just connect with the people there.
All those reasons are good enough! So yes, you should definitely start preparing for a job fair. Let’s check how to do that.
Checklist: Getting Ready for a Job Fair
1. Pre-Register for Participation
These are not drop-in events. Pre-registration is usually required.
If you want to be part of a specific job fair, you should know what the requirements are. The hosts will get this information featured on their website or in the promotional materials for the job fair.
2. Do Your Research
These are the most important things to find out:
- What companies are going to be there? When you learn about their history and mission, you’ll leave the impression of a well-informed person.
- What job offers do these companies have available? This is important, so you can align your resume with the position you’d like to be considered for.
- If your target companies announced their presence at the job fair, you should try to find out which ones of their representatives will be there. If you get this information, you can connect with these contacts on LinkedIn before the job fair.
- Is your set of skills in demand in secondary industries? Will some companies from those industries be there?
3. Craft Relevant Resumes
You’ll need multiple versions of your resume, since you’ll be making contact with different companies. Each hiring manager wants to see a personalized resume, which shows how you fit into their company’s culture.
You’re a recent graduate and you have no idea what to include in the Experience section? Carry Monroe, resume writing expert at EduGeeksClub, gives this advice: “Recent grads have a hard time developing a single version of their resume. When they have to craft multiple versions, many give up because the challenge is overwhelming. Here’s my tip: think about including internships, volunteering activities, relevant coursework, extracurriculars, and your GPA.”
Some companies won’t accept your resume during the job fair, but will ask you to submit it online after the event. In this case, make sure to get the name and title of the company’s representative, so you can mention your connection in the cover letter.
4. Make a Resume-Like Business Card
A business card is a much more convenient thing to hand out when compared to a resume printed on a piece of paper. Prepare and print out cool business cards that include the most relevant information about you.
Make sure to use simple and readable fonts and don’t forget to provide contact information, as well as a link to your LinkedIn profile.
5. Plan your Strategy!
So you get to the job fair. What will you do? You need a plan!
Make a list of the most important companies that you’d like to contact, and rank them by priority. If you have extra time left, you can start connecting with the representatives of companies that are not a priority interest.
6. Plan and Practice Your Pitch
What’s your elevator pitch?
Who are you? You have only 30 seconds to answer that question!
This presentation of yourself should be to the point and well-rehearsed. Plan what you’ll set and practice the pitch in front of the mirror. Here are few things to include:
- Your name, year in school/graduation year, and major;
- Your plans for professional future;
- Some of your experience, internships, involvement in relevant clubs, and other things that make you a good candidate;
- How you see this company as part of your future plans.
7. Prepare an Outfit
This is the golden rule to follow: dress for the job you want. The first impression is very important for a hiring manager, and the clean and sleek outfit is part of the impression you’ll make.
If you want a simple recommendation, take this one: dress comfortably, but conservatively.
8. Prepare Your Questions
The hiring managers want to see your interest in their company. That’s why you did your research, and that’s why you’ll ask highly relevant questions during the job fair. What would you like to know about a particular business? Think of good questions that the representatives would answer for you.
Are you ready for your first job fair? Remember: these events offer tons of opportunities if you approach them with the right mindset. The tips above will help you get into the proper mindset and prepare for the challenge.