Fall is a busy time of the year and it is also a great time to hit up some job fairs. Watch for them in your local papers and through community web sites. Health associations and Technology associations often have job fairs on regional community boards both online and in communities so watch for them there.
Once you find a job fair that you want to attend you want to be prepared though. Get the most out of it that you possibly can. How? Follow these tips:
The week before a fair:
- Fill out application forms if it is a requirement of the organizers of the job fair.
- Get a professional outfit ready. If your suit needs to be dry cleaned get it done. Iron everything and set it somewhere where it won’t get dirty or get cat hair all over it. If you don’t have a garment back a big black garbage bag will protect it in a pinch!
- Make sure you resume is ready. Make any changes that you might need to and make copies so they are ready to be handed out.
- Be ready to write things down. A good old fashioned pen and paper will do the trick but these days some people prefer to use a tablet or a smart phone. Using one of the latter won’t make you look any better in the eyes of employers though.
- Make sure you have a professional looking bag or brief case to keep resumes and business cards in. You want to keep them nice and crisp. You might also collect swag from the businesses at the fair and it is good to have somewhere safe to put it.
- Know what your purpose of attending the fair is. You should have some clear goals.
- Know which companies are a priority for you to visit.
- Do research on your priority companies. Find out as much as you can.
- Be prepared to give an elevator speech – 30 seconds or lest to make an impression on potential employers.
During the Job Fair
- Arrive early.
- Talk to as many people as you can.
- Do practice good listening skills and eye contact.
- Do use good non-verbal signals. Smile and relax your body.
- When you have a few minutes write down the names of the companies that you have talked to and give resumes to. You’ll want to follow up later. Also write down the names of the people you spoke to and any important information from your discussion.
- Ask for business cards.
When You Leave
- After you leave the job fair find a coffee shop or library nearby so you can take some notes.
- Organize all the material you have received by employer so that everything is together.
- Take notes on any important information that you didn’t have time to write down earlier.
- In the following week, spending some time following up on companies. Email or telephone to thank them for the opportunity and ask a follow up question.
- Evaluate your performance. What went well? What could you have done better?