How To Prepare For A Job Fair

By Chris Kolmar - May. 4, 2021

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A job fair, also known as a career fair, is a recruiting event where employers and recruiters have space to meet with potential job candidates or future employees, and job seekers have the opportunity to find more information on job openings. Career fairs are typically held in large spaces where employers have a space to set up a booth.

These booths may have information about job openings, information about the company, and fun branded items from the company. They are typically staffed by members of human resources or individuals from the teams that have current job openings.

These individuals are responsible for explaining job openings, the application process, and additional information or incentives for joining the company.

Career fairs are beneficial events for job seekers to attend, especially those new to the job market. Oftentimes, these events will have speakers or specific booths where you may receive general information on how to write a resume or CV, how to prepare for certain certifications or assessments, and how to interview.

They’re also a great opportunity to learn about a variety of job openings in a single place, rather than visiting each company individually. It can give you information about opportunities you may not have come across otherwise.

Additionally, career fairs can be a great networking opportunity. You may make connections at these events, even if you don’t end up working for the organization.

As a job seeker, you’ll want to be sure you’re adequately prepared for this event. Below, we discuss the different considerations to make in order to prepare yourself for a career or job fair.

Take the Time to Prepare

Once you hear about a career or job fair, you’ll likely have some time to prepare. It’s important to do a few things before you even walk into a job fair.

  • Pre-register for the event. Depending on how the event is set up, they may require registration. Even if registration is optional, it’s a great idea to still register and submit your resume and other information just in case the employers in attendance do some research before the fair.

    This can help boost your chances of getting noticed and having a valuable conversation with a potential employer.

  • Do your company research. Typically the event will send out a list of organizations in attendance. Doing your research on the companies you may be interested in speaking with will not only let you manage your time better, but it will give you additional knowledge in your conversations at the booths.

    It’s recommended to do this as it will help you stand out from the crowd and show the individuals you speak with about your genuine interest in their organization.

  • Plan out your route. With the list of companies, it’s a good idea to make a prioritized list of the jobs and organizations you’re interested in. This will help you make the best use of your time and ensure that you get all of your most important conversations out of the way first.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary

    By also knowing exactly who you’re going to be speaking with, you’ll increase your chances of being successful. If possible, see if you can even get an event map so that you can plan your exact route in order of interest.

  • Pack your bag. The most important thing you’ll want to be sure you have is printed copies of your resume. Remember to print extras, as sometimes companies like to collect more than one to hand out to colleagues. You may also want to pack hand sanitizer, bottled water, and breath mints.

  • Practice your pitch. You’ll want to come prepared with a short pitch about yourself. This shouldn’t be longer than a minute and should be used to explain who you are, what career you’re interested in, and what your key skills are.

  • Pick your outfit. It’s a good idea to decide what to wear before the event so that you can make sure everything is clean and fits properly.

Preparing for the career fair with these steps is a great way to make sure you leave a lasting impression on the companies you choose to meet with. Being prepared shows employers that you are detail-oriented, have no problem doing your homework and research, and that you’re a serious candidate.

What to Bring

As mentioned above, it’s a great idea to pack a bag ahead of attending a career fair. But what exactly should be included? There are several items you might want to consider including, just in case they’re needed.

  • Extra resumes. As mentioned above, sometimes employers like to take additional copies of your resume to distribute at their organization or for a colleague to take a look at. Make sure you bring more than enough copies.

  • Business cards. If you have personal business cards with your general information, you should consider bringing them to the event fair. These cards should be fairly simple with your name, phone number, email address, and any other relevant information such as a Linkedin profile link or brief mission statement.

  • Portfolios. Depending on the line of work you’re considering, you may want to bring your professional portfolio. If you work in a highly visual field, it’s a great addition to help you stand out from other candidates.

  • Paper and pen. You should always have a notebook or notepad on hand along with a pen at a job fair. You might want to take notes after each meeting that will remind you of who you spoke with and what you liked or disliked about your interaction.

  • An extra pair of clothes. If you’re traveling a distance to get a job fair, it’s a good idea to have a simple backup pair of clothes. You never know what could happen during travel, and having an extra outfit can give you peace of mind.

  • Freshen up products. This can include mouthwash, dental floss, gum, breath mints, extra deodorant, perfume or cologne, and extra makeup products.

Have Questions and Your Pitch Ready

Once you arrive at the job fair, you’ll want to make sure you have questions and your pitch ready for each individual you speak with. These may be different for each company or relatively the same, depending on your specific goals.

Your elevator pitch or speech should be a quick and direct way to introduce yourself, your career goals, and how you feel you can fulfill the needs and requirements of the job at hand.

Individuals manning a booth at a career fair could see dozens to hundreds of job applicants in a day. You want to make sure your pitch is memorable and to the point. Be sure to practice beforehand.

You may also want to consider making a list of questions to ask each employer. These can be related to the company or position you’re interested in. Try to ensure the questions you ask are insightful and not too generic. Be sure you ask questions that will give you a sense of the organisation’s culture.

Check-in When You Arrive at the Job Fair

Depending on how registration works, you may be required to sign in at reception and get a name tag or badge. Make sure you position your tag or badge where it’s visible. It’s best practice to put a tag on your right side, so that’s the side you’ll be shaking on, and it will be more visible for the recruiter.

Once you’re checked in, refer to your plan of action. Head to your top priority companies first, and work backwards from there.

Introduce Yourself With a Smile

You’ll want to project a friendly yet professional demeanor as you introduce yourself to different organizations. Smiling at the recruiter projects a positive and approachable personality. Be sure to be proactive and introduce yourself first. Something like, “Good morning. I’m Lara Snopes, and it’s nice to meet you,” works just fine.

Ask the recruiter how they preferred to be referred to and get ready to deliver your short pitch. The recruiter will likely ask you a few questions. Be sure to offer them a copy of your resume, even if you’re not asked, as well as your business card if applicable.

Ask the recruiter for their information by taking their business card or writing down their information for your personal records.

After the Job Fair

Once the event is over, be sure you collect and organize the information you’ve collected by either way of business cards or note-taking. It’s a great idea to revisit your priority list and consider if any company stood out more than others on your list.

From there, you’ll want to make sure you follow up with any recruiter of the organizations you had an interest in, as well as the ones you may not have been so interested in. Remember, even if someone you spoke with isn’t working in an area of interest today, that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. You should leave everyone with a good impression.

Send these recruiters a simple thank you note. You can, of course, give more thought and detail to those jobs you are more interested in. But every note should be slightly personalized in some way, including the name of the company and recruiter. This is a great gesture that leaves recruiters with a good impression of you and your professionalism.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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