Similarly to your job search as a whole, it is important to plan for success when preparing to attend a job fair. Consider the event as a condensed, in-person version of the application process as a whole. Each employer you meet, each conversation you have, every resume you hand out, each action should be approached as a high level move in your job search strategy. Here are the things you need to make sure you have ironed out before you walk through the door.
Prepare for a job fair in a similar way to how you would prepare for an interview. Dress for success. Arrive wearing professional attire that is comfortable but which shows you take the event, and the employers you are speaking to, seriously. For men, this usually means a suit and tie. For women, the dress code is less restrictive, but make sure you are presenting yourself in a highly professional manner. What makes the required attire for a job fair slightly different is the environment.
Comfort should be of equal importance to style or professionalism. You need to be able to walk around for an extended period of time, likely within the company of many other job seekers, so your clothes should not hinder your presentation. Keep an eye out for uncomfortable shoes or clothing which gets uncomfortable when worn for extended periods of time. The last thing you want to be worrying about is the irritation of a scratchy fabric or too tight footwear when you are on the hunt for your next big opportunity.
Bring Resumes and Contact Information
As you are likely connecting with employers for the first time in person, you cannot rely on them having easy access to your contact information. It is important to provide that in a resume, a business card, or some other format so that hiring managers are able to quickly and easily get in touch with you after the event has ended. Many employers might ask for your email address in a sign in sheet format, but consider leaving a resume or card with them as well simply because it is all too easy for handwriting to get smudged or clipboards to get lost in a busy job fair. Don’t let your opportunity slip by simply because you forgot to grab a handful of business cards before heading out the door.
Know What Your Goals Are
The secret to a successful job fair is having realistic expectations and setting achievable goals. Obviously your top most goal is likely to leave the fair with a job offer in hand, but chances of that happening in real life are pretty limited. Job fairs are often overcrowded and staffed by employees who might make good connections but who likely do not have the final say in a hiring decision. Rather, you should prepare for the fair by researching and compiling a list of the key employers or companies you would like to connect with while you are at the event. Do a little digging beforehand to learn about the types of jobs they are looking to fill so that you have something to talk about with the person staffing the table. By preparing in this way, you have a distinct game plan for the event and will walk away feeling like you did your best whether you got a job offer or not.
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