16 May How to ace your next job fair

Finding a job is stressful. You’ve probably applied for many positions online, but sometimes having face-to-face interactions can be just the boost you need to jumpstart your job search. Job fairs are a great way to meet local company representatives and explore opportunities you may not have found during your online job search.

  1. Look sharpYour outfit should look professional, and you should be well-groomed. You never know who your next boss is, but you definitely want to make a good first impression.
  2. Bring your resumeMake sure your resume is updated, error-free and includes your contact information. A good rule of thumb is to bring as double the number of resumes as there are businesses attending the job fair. It’s advisable to put your resumes in a sturdy folder so you aren’t passing out crumpled credentials.
  3. Don’t reach your carrying capacityYou’re about to receive at least a handful of business cards and pamphlets. Make sure you have something to carry everything in so nothing falls out. Likewise bring paper and a pen. You’ll want to take notes.
  4. Have an elevator speechBe prepared to give a brief overview of your professional goals and skills. By brief, we mean about 30 seconds. It’s doesn’t hurt to rehearse it to yourself beforehand.
  5. Research If you have access to a list of businesses that will be there, do some quick internet research and find which companies are most relevant to your career goals. Create a list of the top 10 businesses you want to visit at the fair.

When you’re there

  1. Stow your cellphoneUnless you’re using your cellphone to connect with someone on LinkedIn or add a relevant contact to your address book, keep your phone out of sight, and avoid the temptation to check Facebook while waiting in line. Checking your phone may ease a few minutes of boredom, but it will also make you look unprofessional and disinterested.
  2. Visit the companies on your listVisit all of the company booths on your top 10 list first. Afterwards, visit other relevant booths and introduce yourself.
  3. Take notesWith so many introductions happening within minutes of each other, it can be difficult to remember which companies seemed promising and which you wanted to steer clear of after the fact. Do yourself a favor and make a brief jot about each company you visit to help jog your memory when you get home.
  4. MingleYou never know who you’ll meet in line or who will have connections to lead you to your next job. Use the opportunity to network with others in your field in addition to company representatives.
  5. Don’t expect to be hired on the spotMany companies use job fairs to collect resumes, not to hire immediately. Use the fair as a chance to discover where you want to apply next.
  6. Stay confidentMeeting so many new and intimidating people can be nerve-racking, especially when the stakes are high. Try to keep a smile on your face and stay positive as you establish a many new relationships as possible.
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