A job fair is an event where applicants find employment vacancies aside from online job listings. Career fairs open great opportunities for applicants to meet and network with multiple recruiters from different companies.
There are many upsides in attending a job fair like having the opportunity to meet with as many recruiters as you can in a day and applying for multiple job vacancies in different companies. However, there are downsides to it like having to compete with more applicants that are vying for the same employment opportunity on the same day.
Here are great pieces of advice to help you navigate and maximise the opportunity of spending a day in a career fair:
Before the event
Getting things ready a day or two before the career fair is a must when attending one. Many applicants fail to impress hiring managers and recruiters due to the lack of preparation.
Research about the job fair
Well-organised career fairs are advertised online. Organisers post details like date, location, and list of the participating companies. Check these details and determine if the career fair is catering to general industry or is catering to a specific industry.
The most common example of a career fair is a general job fair held in a mall. There are various advertisements posted and published with details of the event including the fair’s media partners. If the details on the advertisements are insufficient, check the pages of the listed partners on the advertisement to know more about the event.
Research about the participating companies
Research in advance and determine what positions the participating companies are looking to fill. Note that companies look for applicants who can provide them value however, it’s as important to look for companies that can provide you with value and career growth.
Researching beyond the basic data of the company like the industry, location, and such can be helpful in terms of getting an unexpected interview on the day of the job fair or determining which environment aligns best with your career goals.
Make a priority list
Create a list of the companies that offer you the opportunity you are looking for. Set criteria to determine which companies to prioritise on the day of the career fair. Criteria can vary from the relevance of the job vacancy to the career you want to pursue, pay, location of the company, benefits, opportunity for growth, and more.
Noting down which companies to prioritise can help applicants navigate the fair easier. This can help them track the location of the company booths that are on their priority list.
Pack a small bag
A small bag is necessary when attending a career fair. Preparing everything needed in advance and packing them ahead of time shows thoughtfulness and consideration towards the recruiters – respecting their time by having everything ready.
Here’s a list of things to pack in advance:
- CV. Preparing a handful of CVs before the event is vital. No one knows what kind of opportunity can present itself during the job fair – it’s better to be prepared than miss a window of opportunity.
- Portfolio. A portfolio is a great addition to the things you can bring in a job fair. It’s a business document that exhibits your work to potential employers. This is especially great for developers and graphic designers.
- Business card. A great investment to spend money on is a business card. It can contain contact details and other information like links to your own online portfolio and such.
- Pen. A pen is a big requirement for every job interview. A pen can change a person’s status in an instant. It is convenient to have for filling up forms, signing contracts, and noting down tips and advice from recruiters and hiring managers.
- Extra pen. Carrying one pen isn’t enough, you have to have an extra pen with you. Many applicants lose their pens in the job fair at some point. Bringing an extra pen with you is one way to prevent nuisance to others – especially the interviewers.
- Folder. Presenting a folded or creased CV to an employer creates an impression of unprofessionalism. Prepare and bring a folder to protect the CVs from creasing.
- A bottle of water. Job fairs can last from 5 to 9 hours, depending on how big the event is. Carry a bottle of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Instead of carrying a bottle, you can buy a bottle of water in the nearby kiosks or stalls by the event area.
- Necessities. A few necessities to keep you fresh and presentable can only be beneficial. Bring a pack of tissue, wet wipes, powder, and a face mirror to maintain appearance. Carrying a pack of gum or mints also helps.
- A set of clothes. This is an optional thing to prepare in advance. Some applicants suffer from perspiring too much. If you are one of them, this tip can help you address this issue and help you maintain a professional and fresh appearance throughout the day.
Dress the part
Dressing to impress is a priority on job interviews. You want to stand out and look professional, however, a long day in a job fair dressed in a suit can be uncomfortable.
Dress to impress but keep it light. Go for a sharp casual look; long sleeves, slacks, and dress shoes for men while long sleeves or blouse, pencil skirts or slacks, and flat shoes for women. This advice will help any applicant move freely between booths in a job fair.
At the day of the event
Many applicants get nervous during a job interview. The right thing to do is brave through and leave a good lasting impression with the recruiters. Prepare yourself and shake off any jitters you might be feeling before you enter the fair.
Have the Energy and Enthusiasm
A good night’s sleep is equal to a well-rested body ready for a day of job hunting in a career fair. In addition to that, eating a hearty breakfast before going to the event will bring any applicant strength to go through a day of interviews.
A recruiter’s goal is to meet and interview as many applicants as possible within the given time frame which means applicants don’t have a lot of time to spend with each recruiter. To leave a good impression, answer questions concisely and with confidence. Nervousness can only cause harm and damage as the most common results in stuttering during the interview.
Present CV during the short interview
Many applicants present their CV at the end of an interview. This is a mistake. It’s important to hand the CV before the interview or during so recruiters can review it as they speak with you. Remember to talk about the experiences, achievements, and accomplishments you did not include in the CV.
Write down notes
Recruiters give out important details during an interview. It’ll be hard to remember important details such as names at the end of the day. Note them down as soon as possible or right after the interview. This will make it easier for
you to remember which people to look for when following up or know what email to send your CV and portfolio.
Ask for a business card
Recruiters bring business cards to a career fair. It contains their name, position they have in a company, and their contact details. Don’t hesitate to ask for one before the interview ends.
After the event
Making an impression doesn’t stop at the career fair. It’s important to follow-up with the recruiters you’ve talked to after the event. The most common mistake is not following-up and hoping that you made quite an impression during your time with them.
Recruiters meet many applicants in the time of the event. It’s necessary to send a follow-up message or email a day or two after the career fair ends to remind them of you. This is one step many applicants overlook.
Other things to keep in mind when attending a career fair:
Attend job fairs in the morning
The best time to attend a career fair is in the morning. Recruiters are energised and have more time to speak with applicants as there aren’t many candidates lining up on company booths yet.
Come prepared and early. If the job fair starts at 8 am, arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. Spend this extra time to retouch and map out the area to easily navigate your way to the booths of your top company choices.
Put the phone on silent
Sounds coming from phones can be distractive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a text or a call, silencing the phone is necessary.
Recruiters respect the time applicants reserve for the day of the fair; it’s only respectful for applicants to do the same. If you are anticipating a call, put your phone on vibrate or very low tone to avoid distracting other applicants and recruiters.
Network while in queue
It’s important to learn about the other applicants in the line. They can share learnings from their experiences and information about the other booths. Speak and network with them. Learn from the things they share with you and make friends. It’s healthier to network. However, keep in mind that gossiping is different from networking.
Learn about their trades and their previous experiences from other companies. Stay neutral and professional.
Check other booths
If the line is longer than expected, check to see if the other booths in the priority list also have the same number of people in the queue. If not, then line up at the other booths first instead of lining up too long for one interview. This way, you’ll be able to check more booths while waiting for the queue to shorten.