A crowded room full of strangers who hold your job prospects in their hands... sounds terrifying, right? But attending a job fair doesn't have to be intimidating. With the right preparations and planning, you can be confident that you're getting the most of your experience.
Before the Fair
- Revise your resume. Make sure your most up to date information is presented in a clean, easy-to-read format.
- Pack your portfolio. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume, along with pens, a notepad, and networking cards if you have them.
- Plan out your day. If a list is provided in advance, make a plan prioritizing the companies you most want to talk to. Do leave room in your schedule for talking to people not on your list.
- Research the companies that will be there. Make sure you learn as much as you can, especially those you want to speak with.
- Prepare questions about each of your top companies. You want to show interest in their company, not just in getting any job that will have you.
- Prepare your career pitch. Practice a short blurb introducing yourself, your skills, and your career goals.
- Groom for success. Get a haircut, manicure, or anything else you need to make a good impression. Dress well in your conservative interview attire. Cover tattoos and remove piercings if possible. Don't forget to plan for comfort, as well—wear shoes you can stand in and plan to check your coat if possible so that your hands are free.
During the Fair
- Get there early. Allow plenty of time to get acclimated to the environment, consult a map, and get the lay of the land.
- Network! Make a connection whenever possible. Even if it is with someone else looking for a job, you'll have another contact for the future.
- Bring your manners. Maintain eye contact, give a firm handshake, and be polite. Be a good listener. Maintain a positive attitude and show appreciation for their time. Say thank you!
- Collect information. Ask for business cards from each contact and take notes on the back so that you remember your conversation when you get home.
- Be ready to interview. Sometimes companies come prepared to interview candidates on the spot. While it's not a given, you want to be prepared if asked.
After the Fair
- Follow up within 24-48 hours. Send a thank you email to each person you met with. No need to be verbose; short messages personalized to each person are great.