Job fairs are a big deal! Many people have found their dream job through networking at job fairs, and even if you feel like it’s a ‘rookie’ way to land a job, big companies love them because it gives them the opportunity to face-to-face with candidates back to back, getting a feel for their abilities or personality outside of a resume.
Don’t go into a job fair unprepared, though! If you just walk off the street expecting to land a job or even an interview, you’re going to have a hard time. You need to compete with all of the people also looking at these positions, and show the company that you are serious about your potential employment.
Don’t Waste Your Time – Do Your Research
Check online in the days leading up to the job fair and find out what companies are going to be there. Then, crosscheck what positions that company might be hiring for. Are there any positions that you could qualify for? Are you interested in the company, even if the positions themselves aren’t exactly perfect for you?
Now, prioritize your list. If you can’t hit every single company that you would like to work for, at least make sure that you’re getting to the companies that you have the most in common with, or would be the best fit for.
Now, continue your research. Learn about the company culture, the expectations of the job you might be applying for, and what you need. You don’t have to personalize your resume to these jobs, but it’s a nice touch if you have the time.
You at least want to be prepared when they ask you how much you know about the company, and you don’t want to sound like an idiot saying you’ve ‘always’ wanted to work there when you can’t tell them anything about themselves!
Dress for the Job You Want
Jeans and a tee-shirt have no business at a job fair. You might think that it is a little more casual because it isn’t technically an interview, but many companies will jump right to the first interview if they find you persuasive, or your resume interesting.
Wear something that is lightweight, so you don’t overheat in a crowded hall, but also smart and clean. A light jacket, well-fitting pants, and a nice button-up are all good. If you’re a guy, go with a smart tie to complete the look. Dress like you would for an interview.
Also, consider your choice of shoe. You might be tempted to wear something that is extra nice, but uncomfortable, in order to impress. There’s a good chance that you are going to be on your feet for hours, though, so put supportive insoles inside or wear something more practical. You won’t be ready for an interview if you’re in pain!
Pack Light, but Smart
Don’t overpack. You don’t want to lug a huge tote or backpack around when you are talking to people. It will look unprofessional, and more importantly, you’ll be uncomfortable.
Bring only what you need. Several copies of your resume references for any interviews that go very well, and a small portfolio to show off if your career demands it. That’s all you really need.
A snack and a bottle of water is also smart! It’s easy to get dehydrated or hangry working the room. Just don’t choose something that will melt, or leak, all over yourself and you’re good to go!