Learning to Work a Job Fair

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER

It isn’t often that a group of employers will gather for several hours in a purposeful effort to meet you and other job seekers. So when a job fair is held in your area, it’s a good idea for you to attend. In order to obtain something from the experience, you need to understand what you should do before, during and after the job—and then follow up. Your small investment of time and effort—before, during and after—might very well turn into an opportunity you wouldn't have otherwise had.

BEFORE

1. Develop a Strong Resume: Highlight your skills and accomplishments. Your resume should be error-free and concise. Don’t forget to make several copies, since you’ll probably visit with more than one employer.

2. Study the Organizations Attending the Fair: Check out the Employer Profiles and make a list of the employers you plan on visiting at the fair. Nothing impresses an employer less than a prospective candidate asking, “So what do you guys do?” The more informed you are, the more likely you will be positively remembered.

4. Develop a 30-Second Commercial: “Tell me a little about yourself.” You’re likely to get that invitation from many of the employers at the fair. So spend a little time beforehand figuring out your response. Think of your reply as a 30-second, self-promotional commercial you’ll deliver to each employer who asks.

DURING

1. Introduce Yourself and Shake Hands: In many ways, a job 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 need help with your introduction, practice in advance with a friend.

2. Dress Appropriately: In most cases, you’ll want to dress professionally to attend a job fair. At the Summer Job Fair, business casual is fine, but don’t go too casual. When in doubt, overdress.

3. Ask Intelligent Questions: If you’ve researched 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 their research.

4. 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.

5. Leave Your Resume with Each Representative: Then be sure to grab each representative’s card.

AFTER

1. 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.

2. 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.