One of the very first job fairs I attended, I ran around the hall, picking up all sorts of literature about roles and courses I would never even dream of applying for. On further investigation of the materials I had taken from the fair, I realised that I had not only taken home leaflets and brochures, but I had also come away with people’s name badges from their tables. Speaking from experience this is not the best way to attend a job fair. Job fairs are normally very busy and overcrowded and it can be easy to become panicked, disheartened or carried away, it is therefore very important to have a strategy and be prepared when attending one. The following tips will help you to get the best results out of job fairs and to avoid the rookie errors that I made.
Many job fairs and career expos have information on participating companies on the job fair web site. Have a plan. Research in advance what companies are going to be there and pick the top 5 companies you would most like to talk to. Make sure to attend these stands first and be prepared to talk to the HR managers. Check out the company’s web site, mission statement, vacancies, and general information in advance. Demonstrate your interest in the company and their job opportunities.
Make sure to arrive early enough. Some companies will have longer queues than others depending on their reputation and available positions. It is advisable to start with the companies that have the longest queues. It is also a good idea to wear comfortable but formal shoes
Impression / Appearance
First impressions are very important. Dress formally. Avoid jeans, tracksuits and t-shirts. Shake hands and introduce yourself to recruiters when you reach the table. Treat the job fair as the first round of an interview, try to make a good impression, give a firm handshake, be enthusiastic, maintain eye contact and smile
Prepare a profile to promote yourself effectively. Make a two line sales pitch summarising your qualifications and qualities that make you a desirable candidate. Write it down on a piece of paper before hand and practice it.
Having completed research on the companies will enable you to ask relevant questions. This will show your interest in the company and raise your chances of making a good impression
Every second spent at a job fair is an opportunity to get a job. Everyone who attends a job fair is an information asset. Speak to others in the queues and ask them about their job search
Copies of your CV
Prepare a number of CVs matching yourself to the roles that you are applying for. Bring them in a folder so that they are neat and clean.
Attend a Workshop
If the job fair has workshops or seminars, attend them. In addition to getting job search advice, you’ll have more opportunities to network. Sometimes there will be CV clinics and these can be very helpful
Collect details from the recruiters
Always make sure to collect details for further information. It could be in the form of business cards, emails or phone numbers. Bring your own pens and note book, and take down any information gained from the employer that you can use when contacting them again.
Follow up with an e-mail or phone call expressing gratitude to the recruiters who spoke with you. Thank them for meeting with you and ask them if they need any more information or about the next stages of the process. Having met with a HR manager of large legal firm who used to attend job fairs, she said that she met many people in a day but if someone followed up with a call their C.V. would automatically be moved to the top of the pile.
Learn from it
Take notes and learn from what worked well and what you might do differently next time. Enjoy the day and best of luck.
Breda Hegarty is the Pre-employment Trainer in Business in the Community, supporting people with barriers gain employment and author of the blog www.thejobmotivator.com For more information and to book an appointment for a place on our next free training course in relation to C.V.s . cover letters and Interview skills call (01) 8743840 / (01) 8743814 or e-mail email@example.com