Job Fair Tips
Come Dressed to interview – bring extra updated resumes / references
1. If the Web sites of job fair producers offer the option, search for jobs in advance,
to target the most promising, participating employers. Read the employers'
profiles if available, to help you answer the classic question, "Why do you want to
work for us?" Even if job fair producers don't offer these options, most at least list
the participating employers and the general types of jobs they have open, so you
may research them on your own. That might be a good idea anyway, and the
"About Us" and career sections of employers' Web sites are typically good places
to start. You can find an employer's site by typing the full company name in your
browser, where you'd normally type a URL. Alternately, try company-research
resources, some of which include business articles, financial reports and such for
the companies they track.
2. Plan to take at least 25 crisp resumes to a job fair, 40 or so if it's a huge event.
(The job fair might have copy facilities for free or a small fee, which is nice if you
run out. But don't count on it ahead of time.) The scannable format is probably
best for job fairs, as it accommodates most of the ways employers file and
distribute paper resumes and their electronic counterparts. If your job requires
formatting skills, you might also bring some fancier resumes to offer employers a
choice. Bring a pen, pencil and notepad too, and organize it all in a nice brief case
3. Before a job fair, prepare to interview on the spot, summary style in a few
minutes or less. In other words, be prepared to quickly sell your skills, talents and
experiences. It's better to politely sidestep up-front salary discussions if you can.
But have a salary figure in mind, just in case your interview advances to the salary
4. Also prepare to fill out a job application on the spot. Unless you're otherwise
directed, it's best to turn it in right away. Taking it home first allows your better-
prepared competitors to beat you to it.
5. Arrive a few minutes early at a job fair, to register if required and plan your
"attack." Pick up a booth map if available, and route your path to the employers
you've targeted. If a job list is available, check it, just in case employers added
new jobs since you last researched. If you're going to attend seminars, networking
events and such, look for the schedules while you're at it.
6. Visit your targeted employers first with resume in hand, and spend some "quality
time" with each. But, remember that they have many more job seekers waiting, so
don't try to hog all their time or be offended if they cut it short. Once you've hit all
of your targets, "shop" other employers' booths and do some networking. If the
job fair has casual get-togethers, have some fun while networking too!
7. When wrapping up your conversations with employers' reps, show your interest
by asking them what the next steps are. Ask if it's okay to call them or send
follow-up letters a few days after the job fair ends. But if they say they'll contact
you, don't press your luck too much. The squeaking wheel doesn't always get the
oil in this case.
8. Track to which employers you've submitted your resume at the job fair, so you
don't redundantly resubmit it too soon. It's a good idea to jot down other notes too,
right after you talk with each rep. This will help you to stay consistent, in case
you land a follow-up interview with the same person. (You can bet that interested
reps will take notes on you.) Taking notes will also help you to effectively follow
up with a call or letter.
9. Collect business cards or contact info as you go, and do follow up within 24-48
hours with a thank-you letter to each of the representatives with whom you spoke.
It's courteous, professional and typically expected, even after casual job fairs.
Complying might make you stand out in their minds, to help you land follow-up
10. Afterwards, revisit the job fair producers' sites periodically. Many continue to list
new and unfilled openings for some time after job fairs. Post your resume if you
haven't already done so. Again, if producers don't offer these options, visit the
sites of employers that interest you. It wouldn't hurt to visit the latter anyway, as
they may have new openings they don't forward to the producers after the job fair.
But don't bombard employers with your resume, as it'll appear that you're
unorganized and not keeping track. One resume in three to six months is enough.
If you want to know what's going with your resume or if you see a new position,
send a follow-up letter or letter of inquiry instead. The employer will let you
know if you should submit your resume again.