Attending a job fair is an opportunity to gain information about a variety of jobs and companies. It’s a great time to make contacts for careers, internships and/or seasonal work. Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of this great networking opportunity:

Locating Job Fairs

Check newspapers, college placement offices, community centers and the internet for information about upcoming job fairs. Select job fairs that cover the geographical area, companies and positions that interest you.

Prepare for the Job Fair

Begin by identifying a few of the key strengths on your resume. Be prepared to discuss each key area with potential employers. Practice introducing yourself and describing your skills to friends or family before the fair.

Dress exactly as you would for an interview. If you have business cards containing your personal information, bring them to hand out. You will also want to bring plenty of resumes (more than you think you will need), a notepad and something to write with. Consider including a very general cover letter with your resume that identifies your objective and key qualifications. This will make a positive impression because very few candidates make the effort. Try to carry a small portfolio with your information
so that you may easily shake hands with interviewing recruiters or human resource staff.

If you know which companies will be represented, do some research before the job fair so you can discuss their businesses and ask intelligent questions. You will also want to prioritize which companies you want to meet with in case you run out of time.

At the Job Fair

Think of your interaction with employers at the job fair as job interviews. Don’t be surprised if you are interviewed on the spot. Also, pay attention to the non-verbal clues of the people working the booths. If they are looking over your shoulder at the other job-seekers at their booth, it’s time to move on. These people are trying to see as many people as possible, just as you are.

In addition, this is an opportunity to gather information. A job fair is an ideal way to find out what positions are open and the qualifications of prospective employees.

Follow-Up

The day after the fair, send a cover letter to each contact with whom there might be ongoing mutual interest. Remind him or her of your meeting at the job fair and your qualifications. Enclose a fresh copy of your resume. If you said you would call the employer, do so, but leave only one ore two messages. Be prepared to wait for a response from them.

Attending the job fair with a good plan and some preparation should give you the satisfying experience that you are looking for. Most of all, it should also translate into satisfying results. IBI