Attending a Job Fair

Job Fairs

Job fairs are a very effective and personal ways to interact with a number of different companies in a very short period of time. A wide variety of companies normally participate. This is an excellent opportunity to browse, indulge your curiosity and gain a perspective on where you fit in the job market.

Large portions of modern hiring processes are completed online and by phone. Employers screen resumes and cover letter electronically and you research employers online. Job fairs provide an opportunity to meet employers face to face and get answers to your questions about particular positions or companies straight from a company representative. They provide an opportunity to be evaluated on more than just your resume. Interpersonal skills, communication skills and workplace appropriate social skills are critical. Many employers evaluate these skills heavily, because they want to hire people who can make a good impression on their clients and customers. 

Job fairs provide many opportunities to:

    • Investigate positions, occupations and/or career fields and companies in which you have an interest. 
    • Network with professionals in the career fields and companies in which you have an interest. 
    • Network with other job seekers. Talk to others while you’re standing in line to exchange job-searching ideas, provide support and even obtain leads. 
    • Polish your interviewing and professional skills by talking with employers. Practice selling your skills, experience, and education to build your comfort level with interviewing. Pay close attention to the popular questions that you may not have anticipated and prepare answers to those questions for future interviews.

FVTC Events & Job Fairs

Before Attending a Job Fair
During the Job Fair
After the Job Fair
Questions to Ask Employers

Don’t even think about walking into a job fair unprepared. If you want to get the most out of your time there, you have to do your homework! Below are some tips that can help you get ready for the fair:

  • Research the companies attending: Preparing for the fair starts with knowing the organizations that are attending and which once you are interested in talking to. You could research these companies online. Luckily, most job fairs have web sites that showcase participating employers and some even include what positions they are looking to fill. Use these web sites to identify which companies that you want to approach and educate yourself on those companies. You can also check out each company’s corporate website, and learn more about what they do. Being well versed in a company’s background, environment and mission may very well go a long way in demonstrating enthusiasm to a recruiter. Likewise, knowing nothing about a company and admitting that you have absolutely no idea what your strengths and interests are is a prescription for disaster.
  • Prepare your resume: A well written, error free resume is a must! If you’re looking for more than one type of position, each being significantly different, you may need two different versions of your resume, each tailored to support a different objective. This doesn’t mean you need an individualized resume for each employer at a fair. It simply means when you speak to an employer and say you’re interested in a certain kind of work, don’t hand the employer a resume that has nothing to do with that kind of work. 
  • Prepare a 60 second introduction to use with employers: You don’t want to sound like a telephone solicitor reading a script; you do want to sound like you’ve thought about why you’re there. It might be something like, “hello, I’m Daria Henderson, a second year Marketing student. I’m looking for an internship related to marketing for next summer. I read on your web site that (name of company) has an internship program in your corporate marketing department, and I’ve done some project work that I believe is related to the internship work. I’m very interested in your program” Get the idea? Keep in mind that some employer representatives may take control of the conversation quickly and you may do more listening than speaking, but you do want to be prepared to be proactive rather than passive.  Practice Interviewing o Be prepared to discuss what you like doing, what you’re looking for in a job, and what your most relevant skills are.
  • Be prepared: Be prepared by bringing the following: a pen, something to write on and supply of resumes. You should also bring a portfolio or carryall that has easily accessible storage areas. Wear comfortable, professional-looking shoes designed for standing long periods of time.

You have done your research, perfected your resume, and prepared your 60 second introduction. Now the big day is here. You’ve made it to the fair, but now is not the time to let your guard down! Follow these tips while you’re at the fair and make the most out of all the hard work you did in preparation.

  • Dress for success: First impressions are lasting ones, so treat the job fairs you are attending like a job interview. Come dressed for success, in conservative attire, with a winning attitude, and ready to answer probing questions. If they distribute name tags, by all means use them. Recruiters want to get to know you.
  • Arrive early: Some well-known employers may have many job seekers wishing to talk to them, and long lines can build up at their locations. You can sometimes avoid lines by arriving early and getting into the fair first. This will also give you time to survey the layout of the job fair and determine the order that you plan to visit with company representatives once it begins.
  • Prepare some questions to ask employers: While this is a chance for employers to learn about you, you also want to learn about them! Prepare some standard questions that you can ask the employers you are interested in working for. Questions you may want to ask company representatives at a job fair include:
    • What types of career opportunities does your organization offer?
    • Can you describe your company’s hiring/application process?
    • What are the main skills or qualities that you look for in an employee?
    • Are you aware of related occupations that I would be qualified for?
    • Could you provide some other contacts that might be helpful to me?
    • May I contact you if I need more information?
  • Prepare your answers to employer questions: Recruiters will want you to be prepared to talk about your career objectives, strengths, willingness to relocate, interests, relevant skills, the kind of job you are looking for, why you want to work for their organization, and why you would be an asset. Be prepared to answer commonly asked questions and tailor them to the company’s needs.
  • Be professional, confident and enthusiastic: Recruiters see you as a potential future representative of their company. Display confidence, enthusiasm and the ability to think and speak “on your feet” and under pressure. Be prepared to assertively introduce yourself, using your best handshake, showing enthusiasm and making eye contact with the interviewer. Be concise, polite, and direct because you only have a brief period of time to obtain the information you need and to make a good first impression.
  • Leave on a good note: The people at these events usually do not make hiring decisions, so close to the conversation by asking for the representative’s business card and discussing how and when to follow up. Say, “Thank You”.

You attended the fair and it was a great success! You’ve made a good impression on some potential employers, got some promising leads, and now you’re ready to put this fair behind you. But wait! Following up on the fair is very important and how you do that can mean getting or not getting the job. Give yourself the competitive edge. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that as soon as you have spoken to the last employer and left the facility that you are finished. Follow-up is essential to making the most of your job fair experience!

  • Send thank you letters: Be sure to send thank you letters to employers that you are interested in within one week. Most candidates do not make the effort to send thank you letters; why not give yourself a competitive edge.
  • Be persistent: Be sure to observe the follow-up procedures suggested by each employer. Once you have complied with these procedures, if a reasonable amount of time has passed and you have not heard from the employer, it is okay to contact them to inquire about the status of your application.
  • Other things to remember about job fairs:
    • Keep in mind that all is not lost if you don’t land a job. Job fairs also offer great practice in perfecting networking and interviewing skills.
    • Talk to a many people as you can; never underestimate the value of face time with recruiters from leading companies. Pay attention to the questions you’re being asked and to the kind of information they’re offering.
    • It’s impossible to leave without something of value.
  • What types of career opportunities exist within your company? 
  • Can you describe your hiring and application process? 
  • What are the main skills or qualities you look for in an employee? 
  • What advice would you have for me as I continue my job search? 
  • May I contact you if I need more information?