• Ricia Marano

The Formula For Attending a Job Fair

If you’re looking for a job, it is worth attending a job fair. Most all companies that will be present are there because they are looking to hire. It’s not likely their just on fishing expeditions as it costs them time and sometimes money to attend a fair.

There are a few things you should do before any job fair, whether in person or virtual.

First of all, pre-register for a job fair. There are a couple reasons for this. Space may be limited to a certain number of job seekers. Also some pre-registrations will give you the opportunity to upload a profile or resume for preview by the attending businesses. Pre-registering will give you an opportunity to jumpstart your introduction to companies.

Next look into the attending companies. Figure out who you want to talk to and do a little research into the business just like you would before an interview. Look at their website, their social media, any recent news articles. Knowing something about the company will impress the representatives as they will see this as genuine interest. You also can often preview the available jobs on their website which will help you with the next step.

As you’re reviewing the companies, prioritize who you want to talk to. Time can be limited at these events and you want to make you get a chance to talk to the companies you are most interested in first and the ones that have the jobs you are most interested in.

Next up: resumes. How’s your resume looking these days? Is it up to date? Is it error free? Do you need a resume done because you don’t have one? Now’s the time to do it. Cortland Works and Cayuga Works can help with resumes so make sure you make an appointment as soon as you know you will be attending a job fair. Don’t wait until the day of the fair as a good resume takes time. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of copies of your resume with you as the representative will likely be asking for a copy or two. You should also have your references with you as well as a notebook and pen to take any necessary notes, like who you talked to.

Create and practice an elevator pitch. So what’s that? An elevator pitch is sort a personal sales pitch. It’s where you introduce yourself, talk about your skills/accomplishments/abilities, and what your career path is. It should be brief; no more than a minute, less is better. Google “elevator pitch for job fairs example” to get ideas. You want to practice this pitch so you have it down. Just make sure you’re speaking naturally when you deliver it. You don’t want to sound so practiced that it comes across as robotic.

Lastly, prepare for an interview. A lot of representative may choose to interview you on the spot. Be ready for that opportunity. Google common interview questions to prepare a few answers or at least know how to answer them appropriately.

On the day of the fair, dress and groom as if you are going to an interview because you really kind of are. Fancy suits aren’t necessary. Khakis and a button down shirt for men are fine as is slacks and a nice blouse for women. When talking to a business representative be enthusiastic, confident, and friendly. Be prepared to take notes just in case. Ask for a business card (or write down their info) and send a thank you note to the representative for their time after the fair. This little extra step of a thank you note can be a big advantage in getting a job. It can be a neatly handwritten card or an email.

Now if you’re attending a virtual fair, there’s a few more things to keep in mind.

Prepare your technology. Make sure you have good connections and webcam. You don’t want to be in the middle of a conversation and have technical issues.

Prepare your area. Be sitting at a desk or table; no lounging on the couch. Make sure the area surrounding you is neat and clean. If you can, be in a room where you can close the door against distractions, like pets and kids, or arrange for someone to care for them during the fair. You wouldn’t bring them to an in person job fair so don’t think they will be welcome at a virtual interview.

Dress and groom as you would if you were going to an in person fair. It may be virtual but they can still see you. If you look sloppy, it’ll create a bad impression.

Practice good body language. It probably even more important virtually. Lean slightly towards the screen, maintain good eye contact which means looking at the screen, not the picture of you in the corner. Don’t cross your arms. Make sure your smile is genuine.

A job fair can be a successful part of a job hunt. Though they can feel a bit intimidating because they are like a one stop job search with everything from resume to interview in one, they are still a valuable experience. And, if nothing else, they are just that, an experience, an opportunity to practice selling yourself, interviewing, and building your confidence. So don’t rule them out. Who knows? You just might land yourself a great job!

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