Navigating a job fair is a daunting task. Crowds of hopeful candidates ebb and flow around company booths while hiring managers and representatives shake hands and converse with every individual that steps up to their table. Even for an onlooker, it can feel overwhelming.
Luckily for you, the average job fair is easily mastered with a few simple strategies. If you know your objective and show up prepared, you’ll be in-and-out of the event and on top of a few hiring managers’ call-back lists in no time.
Do your research beforehand: First off, know which employers to target before you get there. Don’t just show up. Like preparing for any regular interview, job seekers need to research the companies they plan on applying to before arriving at the fair. It’s important to glean as much information as possible off the web – often times employers will advertise their participation in the event on their company website.
Submit your application online: Many larger organizations require that you apply for a position online before you show up to the event. While some mobile technologies allow you to submit your resume and application on-the-go, its best to be prepared before you scramble to find a solution. Check to see if any of the organizations you wish to meet with have any special requirements for the interview. Submitting your resume online beforehand also cuts one more step out of the job application process.
Bring all your tools: Take extra resumes (bring different versions tailored for specific positions), your work portfolio, and some business cards as well. Also, clean attire and a firm handshake never hurt anyone.
Keep it cool: While you’ll inevitably see some desperate job seekers running around like it’s a mad dash to the last job – you should refrain from emulating this type of behavior. Hiring managers are watching for such undesirable displays. Don’t worry, these individuals will only make you look better by comparison. Take it slow, be confident. Who would you rather hire: Someone calm and collected, or someone who looks frantic and pathetic?
Know what to say: Treat each micro-interview as if you were speed dating. Introduce yourself with a quick positive message that leaves a lasting impression. Have a few talking points ready to display your knowledge of the company, and market yourself like a must-have product when they start asking you questions.
Maximize your exposure: There’s a reason job fairs tend to go all day. You should try to meet up with all the organizations that interest you, not just one or two. Not only will you improve your odds of landing a job, you’ll also gain invaluable insights about yourself and how you perform during the interview process. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Be sure to follow up with everyone you spoke with at the event. Make sure you exchange contact details and consider writing a quick thank you letter to the interviewers that seemed most interested. Even if you don’t land a job from the job fair, you can treat the whole thing as a giant experiment on honing your skills. Attending job fairs counts as a hard day’s work, so make sure to pat yourself on the back!