The Job/Career Fair

A job or career fair is also commonly referred as job expo or career expo. It’s a fair or exposition for employers, recruiters, schools, companies, and organizations to meet with prospective job seekers. A career fair can be worthwhile to take part in as long as you are attending the right type of career fairs. There are several types of career fairs so use your time wisely and visit the ones that further your job search.

The college/university job fair – This is popular for college students and typically takes place on campus. Many companies who are recruiting for entry-level positions or need to fill specialized positions will take part in college job/career fair.

The online job fair – Also known as a virtual job fair is an online version of a traditional job fair, this method has gain popularity since 2005. They connect employers and job seekers to discuss employment opportunities by way of specialized websites. These online job fairs are live, fully interactive and are held at specific times.

Community job fairs – These fairs are typically sponsored by the city or county they are held in. They have a wide range of employers attending and a wide range of positions from retail sales to IT management. If you attend one of these types of fairs, make sure you have a target list to use your time wisely.

Industry-specific career fairs – These are fairs that target a special industry or group such as computer jobs, retail, nursing or technical/engineering. If you fit into one of these fairs, it will give you a targeted audience but remember everyone else attending is there for the same positions, so you need to stand out from the pack.

Professional job fairs – These are normally geared towards a wide range of professional occupations, from all types of sales to business management, accounting, engineering, and programming. You will compete against those who have direct experience in their field, so you need to ensure you market yourself as a worthy candidate.

A job or career fair is a good place to meet and make contacts from many company representatives of many industries in a short period. Attending job fairs will also keep you in practice for interviewing and interacting with professionals. The more prepared you are for a job fair, the better your results will be. We recommend attending as many fairs as possible, providing they are relevant to your career search.

Where to Find Job/Career Fairs

You can search the internet for a listing of these fairs; search under “Job Fairs” or “Career Fairs.” You can do a general search or add your city, county or state to your search.

Below are just a few suggested websites to locate job fairs

Advice and Tips on Job/Career Fairs

Your resume – You need to ensure you have a well-crafted resume that markets you, your achievements, your experience, your education and your potential to employers. Bring about 30 copies (more for large events) of your resume, laser printed on resume paper.

Your resume business cardsResume business card is a service we offer, and it is an excellent opportunity to set yourself apart from the herd and show you are serious about your future. It is also recommended, taking a business card from each representative you have a met.

Accepting Resumes – Be prepared that some employers cannot accept hard copies of resumes and will ask you to apply online. This is to comply with federal regulations about the way employers keep data on applicants and manage their application data. Another great reason to carry your resume business cards, they will most likely always accept it.

Research companies attending – With most fairs you can get a list of what companies are attending, take some time to research the companies that interest you. Look over their website, write down some comments or questions about the company so you can have a more in-depth conversation when you meet and make it more memorable for them. Discuss how your skills and experience can fit into their company’s mission.

Make “A” & “B” list – Depending on how large the fair is, how crowded it will be and how much time you have on the day of the fair; it’s a good idea to have an”A” &”B” list of companies you are interested in meeting. Make sure you visit all those on the “A” list then hit the “B” List; spend more quality time with the “A” list companies. The companies you are meeting should fit your experience and ambitions.

Arrive early – We recommend arriving at the fair 20-30 minutes before it starts, most events you need to register. Beat the crowds, and most likely the company representatives will be more alert and energized earlier than after hours of face to face meetings or after lunch. When you arrive to review the list of companies attending as there can be additions, review the floor plan, so you know where you are going and in what order. If you happen to go to the fair with someone, don’t network in a group take your path, so there are no distractions.

Carry a portfolio – We highly suggest carrying a simple letter size portfolio (very inexpensive), so you can keep your copies of your resume and business cards neat and clean. Also, place inside the list of companies you want to visit and your questions for them. Hold the portfolio in your left hand, so your right hand is free to give or welcome a handshake.

Your attitude – Without fail you must have the most positive and motivated attitude. You can’t let any negative attitude shine through no matter, how hot or cold the temperature is, how long you waited on line to get in, the traffic you were stuck in when traveling, how rude anyone was towards you or even if you’re just having a bad day. Stay positive and focused and enjoyed meeting people at the fair. Fairs tend to be more relaxed and casual than official interviews; but attire, body language, manners and other interview professionalisms still counts a great deal.

Watch for cues – Some fairs can be overwhelming and crowded so watch out for cues and signals (eye contact, a smile in your direction, nod of the head) that the employer is ready to speak with you.

Your commercial – Remember you’re marketing a product “yourself”. Prepare a 30 second commercial about you to introduce yourself to prospects at these fairs. In these 30 seconds, they should get a feel for who you are, where you are in your career, where you want to go and your relevant experience. Practice your commercial in front of a mirror or record it so you can make improvements to become comfortable when delivering it.

Show your interest – As you are wrapping up your conversation with each employer, shows you’re interested in inquiring about the next steps. Inquire if it’s okay to call or send a follow-up email or letter in a few days.

Take notes – After each face to face meeting and before you continue, step aside to take notes about your previous conversation. This method will allow you to keep good track of your interactions when you refer back to them. It will also be helpful when a company contacts you and you have details about your meeting, this will go a long way in showing you’re interested.

Your attire – Too many people attend job fairs in business casual or less, “NO” you need to dress your best as you would for an actual interview. Each connection you make at a job/career fairs are all about the first impression which is based on the way you present yourself and your resume. Don’t blow it, check out our section Dress to Get Hired as how to look from a haircut, fresh breath and what to wear and how to wear it.

After the Fair – Follow up, write or email a thank you letter to each employer with whom you spoke. In your letter be sure to confirm your interest and enthusiasm for the organization.