How Can I Make the Most of Career Fairs?

Career fairs and job fairs are hosted by most high schools, colleges and universities. Some employment agencies, large companies or agencies, and cities or states also host these events where job-seekers meet recruiters. To make the most of career fairs, follow these strategic tips.

Make the Most of Career and Job Fairs

When you attend a career or job fair, you will be among hundreds or thousands of other opportunity seekers. Doing some research and planning before the event can make the experience more productive, and it may help you stand out from the crowd.

Important Facts About Career and Job Fairs

Types of Employers at Job FairsFirms, Non-profits, Government Agencies, Private Entities
Key Skills for Attending FairsPositive attitude, clear speaking voice, attentive listening, a planned introduction for yourself
Common Questions to AskWhat is the current demand for this industry? What type of training does your organization offer? Will you describe the selection process?
Common Questions from RecruitersWhy did you apply for this position? What was the best job you've had and why? What has been your greatest failure?

Research Ahead

Find the list of employers attending and research them. Have an answer for the recruiter's common question, 'Why do you want to work for us?' Offer specific reasons why you want a career with that particular company or agency.

Prepare Your Resume and a Personal Statement

Career fair recruiters will see lots of resumes. Make sure that yours is brief, clear, fits the job and advertises your strengths boldly up front.

You may also want to have a personal statement ready that you could use to present yourself as the right candidate for the job. Imagine that the recruiter for your dream career asks, 'Why should we hire you instead of someone else?' You have one minute, maybe less, to answer. Know, ahead of time, what you'd say.

Have Some Questions Ready

Have these questions on cards or sheets for each desirable employer at the fair. A great final question is, 'What should I do to obtain a second interview?'

Practice

Practicing for situations you'll encounter at career or job fairs will help you relax and feel more confident. Get a friend or career counselor to help you rehearse walking up, shaking hands, saying hello and offering your resume. Practice your personal statement and answers to common interview questions.

Pre-register

Some career fairs allow you to register before the fair and post your resume. This shows recruiters that you're prepared.

Dress and Behave Appropriately

Dress a step above the way you'd dress for the job. Don't chew gum or your nails. Be patient. Say 'I'm glad to meet you,' and 'Thank you.' Get the recruiter's business card.

Follow Up Afterward

Send a thank-you note. Remind the recruiter of your interest and your best points. Mention that you will call later to find out about the next step in the hiring process, and do call later that week. Many career advice writers emphasize that follow-up is tremendously important and often neglected.

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