How to Attend a Job Fair?

You are looking for a new job and have decided you should attend some job fairs.  What should you expect at a job fair?  How should you dress?  What do you need to bring with you?  How do you attend a job fair?

Why Should You Attend a Job Fair

Attending a job fair is a chance for you to meet with numerous companies in person for possible employment in a single day.  Job fairs are also great opportunities to build your network, practice and master your interviewing techniques, learn valuable industry and company information, and collect tons of business cards for networking purposes.

Things To Do Before You Attend a Job Fair

  • attend-job-fair
    Prepare a 30 Second Introduction:
    Talk about your professional background, your strengths, your career goals, and end with why you would be an asset to their company.  Be prepared to give more detail on these subjects if asked.
  • Internet Research: Most job fairs have websites that list the participating employers.  You should gather information about the companies you are interested in speaking with on the job fair site and on their specific company websites.  Make sure you are able to answer the “Why do you want to work for our company?” question for each employer you plan on speaking with.
  • Prioritize Employers: Make a Target “A” List of employers you would like to speak with at the job fair in order of importance.  Make sure you follow this list so that you are able to meet with the employers you are most interested in without running out of time.  Also make a Target “B” List of employers you would like to speak with at the job fair if time allows.
  • Prepare a List of Questions: Prepare a list of questions to ask each employer you plan on speaking with.  Here are some example questions you could ask:
    • What kind of skills and experience do you normally look for in the employees you hire?
    • What characteristics do your most successful employees possess?
    • Does your company hire continuously or just at specific times of the year?
    • How long does the hiring process take and what does it consist of?
  • Pre-Register: Some job fairs allow you to pre-register online.  Take advantage of this time saving step if it is offered.  Some employers are able to review pre-registered job fair attendees before the job fair, so this is another way to get your profile in front of employers.

What Should you Wear to a Job Fair

  • Solid Colored Suit: It is always best to wear a solid colored suit for a job fair.  Blue, Navy and Gray are the best colored suits to wear to a job interview.  Blue and Navy colors represent honesty, trust, tranquility, and loyalty.  This color has the best success rate for interviews.  A gray color represents neutrality and sophistication.  This color has the second best success rate for interviews.
  • Blouses/Shirts: Make sure you wear a coordinated blouse or shirt with your suit.  A white shirt is an excellent choice for any suit because it goes with anything and it is not a distraction color.  Men should always wear a tie with a suit.  Make sure you pick a tie that coordinates with your suit and is not too busy, flashy, or distracting.  A solid colored tie would be an excellent choice but make sure it isn’t a distracting color that represents you in a negative way.
  • Shoes/Socks: Always wear dark colored socks with a suit.  Do not wear white socks.  Wear shoes that are professional.  Make sure your shoes are shined and not dirty, torn, or look worn-out.  Do not wear sneakers or flip-flops.  Do not wear sandals or open-toed shoes.  Do not wear shimmery or overly embellished shoes.  Women should wear closed-toed flats or high heels (3 inches or less) to a job fair.  Your shoes should compliment your outfit, not overpower it or become a focal point.  Wear shoes that fit comfortably since you will be doing a lot of walking and standing at a job fair.
  • Jewelry: Always wear very limited jewelry to a job fair.  Do not wear any jewelry that could become distracting.  Necklaces should be simple and not big and flashy.  Rings and bracelets should be simple and only one ring should be worn on each hand.  Do not wear a ring on the same arm as you have a bracelet on because it might become too much.  If you wear a bracelet, only wear one and make sure it is not flashy or bulky.  Do not wear cocktail rings or long, big, dangly earrings.  Remember, you are trying to accessorize your outfit without anything that has a possibility of becoming distracting.  Do not wear any face piercings to an interview and make sure you are only wearing one pair of earrings in the fatty part of your earlobe.  I would recommend that a man not wear any jewelry to an interview besides a watch and a wedding ring (if married).  Wearing a watch is an excellent choice because it gives others the impression that you are a timely person that is concerned about being on time and meeting deadlines.  On that note, if you wear a watch you better arrive early for the job fair.
  • Hair: Your hair should look neat and professional.  If you have long hair and tend to fiddle with it, make sure you pull it up because fiddling represents a sign of nervousness.  Do not wear any flashy hair accessories that might become distracting.  Do not wear a hat.  Keep your hair and bangs out of your face at all times.  Keep any beards and mustaches clean and trimmed if you are a man.  Men should have a short and conservative hair cut for a job fair.
  • Makeup: Less is better as far as makeup goes during a job fair.  Make sure you wear lipstick and not lip gloss because shiny lips can become distracting.  Use neutral colors for eye shadow and liners such as tans, browns, and creams.  Use brown or black mascara and make sure it doesn’t look clumpy.  Do not wear fake eyelashes to a job fair.  Make sure your eyebrows are well groomed.  Add a small amount of neutral colored blush for a healthy glow.
  • Perfume/After-Shave: Do not wear any perfume or after-shave to a job fair because your interviewer may be allergic.  Make sure you are clean and showered however.
  • Nails: Make sure your nails are clean and well trimmed.  I would recommend a manicure for both a man and a woman.  Do not wear any bright colored nail polish to an interview because that can become a distraction.
  • Teeth: Make sure your teeth are clean.  I recommend a dental cleaning every 6 months to keep your teeth looking their best.  Remember to smile during a job fair.
  • Accessories: If you wear a belt, make sure it matches your shoes.  If you bring a handbag, make sure it is small (not flashy or bulky) and coordinates with your outfit. I recommend ditching the handbag for a briefcase.  You should either have a briefcase or portfolio with you during a job fair.

What Should You Bring to a Job Fair

  • Resumes: Make sure you bring enough copies of your resume with you to the job fair.  I suggest bringing 20-50 copies of your resume (depending on the size of the job fair and the size of your Company Target lists).  Make sure your resume is printed on white or off-white high quality paper.  Your resume should be free of graphics, photographs, or fancy print styles.
  • Pens:Bring some quality pens with you to the job fair.  I suggest bringing 2 or 3 in case someone accidently keeps one of your pens.
  • Notepad:Bring a notepad so you are able to write down information that you gather at the job fair.
  • Portfolio:Bring a professional looking portfolio with you to the job fair.  Inside the portfolio should include copies of your resumes, copies of your professional references, examples of your work (if applicable), Notepad, Pens, and Business Cards (if applicable).

Things To While at a Job Fair

  • Arrive Early: Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before the job fair officially begins.  Plan on extra time to park, check-in, and plan your strategy.  Recruiters are normally more fresh and attentive at the beginning of the day.
  • Check-In/Register: You will need to check-in whether you registered online or not.  If you did not pre-register online prior to the job fair then you will need to register as well when you arrive.  If they give you a name tag to use, make sure you use it.
  • Plan Your Strategy: If they offer you a map of the job fair, study it and compare it to your Target “A” list and Target “B” list of companies.  Determine the order you will speak with these companies.  Large companies with high profiles will have the longest lines, so visit these companies first if they are on your Target “A” list.  Check to see if any new companies have registered that you were not initially aware of and add them to your target list as appropriate.
  • Network: Take advantage of any extra time you have during the job fair to network with others.  Talk to the other job fair attendees while waiting in lines, eating lunch, receptions, workshops, breaks, etc.  They may have valuable information that may be able to help you including job-hunting ideas, job leads, etc.
  • Gather Information:Make sure that you try and obtain a business card from each employer and recruiter that you speak with so you have their contact information for future follow-up.  Feel free to take company brochures if offered at the job fair booths.
  • Non-Familiar Company: If you happen to come across a company that you did not research beforehand, take some of their company literature that is offered at their job fair booth and read it while waiting in line or come back again after you have developed some knowledge of the company.
  • Not Accepting Resumes: Some employers are unable to accept hard copy resumes because of federal regulations.  You can still speak with these employers and offer your ‘sales pitch’ to sell yourself if you are interested in the company.  Make sure you document what the employer’s application procedure is so you are able to apply at a later time.  Make sure you obtain a business card from the employer or recruiter.

Important Things To Remember at a Job Fair

  • Be assertive and show initiative.  Make sure you show your interest in the company and job opportunity.
  • Make sure you give a good firm handshake when you introduce yourself and make eye contact with the person you are speaking with.  A firm handshake is a sign of a confident person.
  • Always smile.  Smiling shows enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Remain Calm.  Do not become overwhelmed by the crowd of people.  Do not allow yourself to become afraid or intimidated by any employer or recruiter.  Keep a positive upbeat attitude.
  • You should always cover up all facial and body piercings if they cannot be removed.
  • You should always keep all tattoos covered during a job fair.

Incorrect Things To Do at a Job Fair

  • Do not bring your cell phone, blue tooth, iPod, or Blackberry to a job fair.  If you do, it should be put away and turned off.
  • Do not walk into a job fair eating or drinking anything including gum.
  • Do not bring any animals to a job fair unless it is a Seeing Eye animal.
  • Do not bring your children, spouse, relatives, friends, or anyone with you to a job fair.
  • Do not fidget with your hands, feet, hair, face, objects in your hands, etc.  Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness or intimidation.
  • Do not bring or wear anything during a job fair that can possibly become a distraction and take the focus off of you as a professional.
  • Do not show up to a job fair smelling like smoke.
  • Do not just drop your resume on an employer’s table and just walk off.
  • Do not use filler words such as “um”, “like”, “you know”, etc.  Using these types of words make you sound less confident.
  • Do not interrupt a conversation of another job seeker and employer or recruiter.  Wait your turn and be polite.
  • Do not say anything negative about previous jobs, co-workers, supervisors, companies, or colleges.

Things To Do After You Attend a Job Fair

  • Send Thank You letters out the very next day following the job fair that express the employers’ hiring needs, your qualifications, and expresses your desire for a second interview.  Also thank them for taking the time to speak with you at the job fair.  You will need the employers’ contact information in order to do this, which is why it is important to obtain business cards from everyone you speak with.
  • Follow-up with phone calls and emails one week after you send your Thank You letters to the employers that you have not heard from.

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