Attending a job fair is a way to get personal contact with employers rather than the usual online application or mailed resume. You can shake hands, make eye contact, and provide physical resumes to multiple employers at one event. This opportunity may draw a large number of job seekers, so in order to stand out from the crowd it is important to make a good first impression.
Before the Job Fair: Research
Preparation for a job fair starts with knowing why you’re going. Some job fairs have twenty employers and some job fairs have one hundred employers, so know who you’re going to see by getting a list of the employer attendees. Do some research on the companies to know which companies are a good fit for you. That gives you a chance to be fully prepared to make a good impression on that employer. Know what the company does, what positions they have open, and have a resume tuned for that employer. Doing some preparation before you get there will make you look great compared to those coming in to casually browse the job tables. Bring some generic resumes with you in the event that an employer is there that you didn’t know about before the fair. Prepare an outfit that you would wear to a job interview.
At the Job Fair: Pitch Yourself
Once you’re at the job fair, you need to have a quick pitch prepared for why an employer wants to hire you. A quick pitch is a one minute presentation about you. Keep this pitch to your professional life, because you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t want to spend that time talking about things that aren’t relevant. Share some key points about yourself and your work history, with highlights from your career and your goals sprinkled in. Remember the impression you are trying to push about yourself and have that impression influence everything you tell the employer. Practice this before the job fair out loud enough times so that you’re comfortable saying it to employers. Also have a question for company representatives, like “What is a typical day at the company in this position?”
After the Job Fair: Follow Up
The best way to know how to follow up with an employer is to ask the employer. As you’re leaving the table, a quick “How can I follow up with you about this position?” will give you homework for after the job fair. Then follow up shortly after the job fair with the contacts you have made. If you don’t believe a job is the right fit, thank the contact for their time. If you felt like it was a good fit, thank the contact for the time and ask how you could become a better candidate for the position. Don’t follow up too much, as this can work against you in the long run.
A job fair is a great opportunity for a job seeker, so make it work for you by preparing in advance for the companies, selling yourself to employers with your best pitch, and following up after. To keep up to date with Job Fairs in the area, follow IowaWORKS-Southern Iowa on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.