How to Prepare Yourself for a Job or Career Fair

Go Early
Job, or Career fairs are typically open to the public from early morning until late afternoon, to allow for the most flexibility for job seekers. It is important, though, to be sure to arrive at the career fair early. Never show up at a job or career fair at the tail end of the event, for the employer representatives will most likely be exhausted and “all talked out”. The day is often an exhausting one for the recruiters and you do not want to catch them in a rush to get out of there. If you do, there is more of a chance that they will take less time with you and maybe even comment less than they originally would have if they knew they had a whole day ahead of them. You do not want to get there too too early, but about a half hour into the event would be probably best. This way, the recruiters are likely in their groove, ready to promote their company and alert enough to pay full attention to you when you present yourself and your credentials to them.

Dress Up
For the job or career fair day, dress up nicely as if you were going to a real job interview. It is wise to treat this day as a series of important interviews, as really, subtly that is what it is. The recruiters are looking avidly for prospective new employees and even though your discussion may seem like a casual question and answer session, keep in mind that they are all the time on the look for that new star employee. If you dress casually, it looks as if you do not care so much about the position you seek and it also looks as though you do not take this job or career fair too seriously in the span of your job search. If you dress up, on the other hand, they will see that you actually took time to make yourself look presentable on their behalf and even if it is only on a subconscious level, they will be flattered, unlike the insulted feeling they may feel if someone speaks to them in torn jeans and a holey, dirty T-shirt.

Maintain Your Place In Line
Do not butt in line. In fact, do not by any means show any form of disrespect to the other job seekers or the entire job or career fair itself. Stand in the back of the line and wait your turn like everyone else does. And even if others are greedily dodging the line, patiently wait your turn. In some instances, be aware that, a real line might not exist and it may appear in fact that people really are just fighting each other for the recruiters’ attention. If this is the case, try to be calm and slick. Don’t be rude to anyone, but be sure you don’t get left in the dust either. A very good tactic is to try and make eye contact with one of the closest recruiters while you are in line so that he or she will be more likely to address you if you are head to head with others. If you smile patiently and seem kind, this will show them that you have a great, conscientious character with a sense of humor as well. Employers love that. And if you do accidentally (or not, yikes!) end up fighting silently with someone else to finally get attention after waiting forever, if for some reason it’s really obvious and the two of you end up starting to talk at the same time, be the “gentleman” back down and kindly say to the other person (so that the recruiter can hear, ideally), something like “Oh, go ahead, I can wait” and smile sincerely. Not only will you be next but you will have an immediate “in”.

Network with fellow Job Hunters
Use your time wisely. While waiting in line with other job seekers, instead of staring off into space, or worse, trying to fight ridiculously for your turn, relax a bit and get to know the other people. These people are in the same boat as you and if you are friendly you might make a few good contacts. Exchange job resources. At the very least, you’ll pass the time. And watch out for those people who take themselves way too seriously and refuse to humble themselves enough to jovial, light conversations in case to shatter their serious, “professional” image. Don’t let them bother or influence your a happy attitude. Event though they are more strictly composed when in line, the real truth is employers like to see a personality as well as a team player. And if you spend your wait time talking about work related material (quietly) they will immediately tag you as both.

Be Ready For A Quick Interview
When you speak to a recruiter about your credentials and interests at a job or career fair, they very well may become captivated by you on the spot. In fact, ideally this will definitely be the case. And you can encourage this to happen by using your interviewing and communications skills to show off your talent and one of a kind personality whether the recruiter starts asking you imploring questions right there or if he/she simply takes your resume to look over, if you treat each conversation like it is an interview its likely so will they. Ask question s you’ve prepared beforehand that show enthusiasm for the position and company. The more you ask, the longer they spend with you and thus, the more they get to know and likely remember you later.

Get Names and Contact Info
Be sure to get a name (full name) and contact information (preferably a business card) of everyone you speak to at the job or career fair. Additionally, inquire as to how their interviewing process works and who, if anyone, you can plan on speaking to so as to further along the procedure. This is a great way to show the empoloyer companies that you are serious about a job with their company.

Follow Up
After the job or career fair is over, look at the notes you’ve been jotting to help your member your conversation with each recruiter and follow up your pseudo interview with a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it would be great if you could allude to something you discussed in person to help them remember you. Additionally, send another copy of your resume.

Finally, be sure to bring your own cards and several copies of your resume to the job or career fair, to leave with the recruiting companies. You want them to be able to remember you by something tangible. And if you follow these guidelines, you will be almost certainly sure to put off an excellent impression and definitely stand apart from others.

And by all means, make sure you bring a pen!

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