How to Turn a Job Fair into a Job Offer

Not sure how to prepare for a job fair? We’ve got you covered.

Ours is a digital world, full of instant tweets and live Facebook updates. So it’s not surprising that many people have started to doubt the usefulness of the traditional, decidedly non-digital job fair.

Why go through the trouble of meeting a recruiter in person when you can simply email them a resume with a link to your LinkedIn profile?

Because meeting recruiters in person provides a chance to make a real, personal connection. To show them that you’re more than digital words on a digital page.

Job fairs come in all shapes and sizes, so odds are you’ll be able to find one in your industry. Some post their information online. Many college-sponsored job fairs are open to everyone, so even if you aren’t a student, there’s still an opportunity to be seen. Check out The United States Job Fair Directory for job fairs in your area.

Make the most of your job fair experience with these three tips for navigating it.

1. Prepare

A job fair is basically one huge chain of interviews. And just like any traditional interview, preparation starts before you even get to the event. Begin by discovering what companies will be there and which jobs they are currently hiring for. Browse their websites and prepare a few insightful questions.

Tailor your resume for the companies you’re interested in. That doesn’t mean adding fluff or lying—it just means framing your experiences in a way that is relevant to the job.

Get in touch with whoever is facilitating the job fair. Ask them what companies are going to be there (if that information isn’t already available online), and who is going to be representing the companies you’re interested in. Then look that person up online see what information you can discover.

Be sure to ready yourself for any question you might be asked by having a quick “elevator speech” prepared; something short and sweet that tells them why you’re worth hiring.

Finally, make a schedule and plan your day. Allocate time for both your dream company and your second or even third choices. They might surprise you!

2. Be Professional

Would you wear jeans and a t-shirt to a professional interview? Hopefully not. The same rules apply to a job fair. Dress for the job you want. Business casual at the least (usually dress shirt and slacks for men, skirt and blouse for women), preferably business professional (suits for both men and women). This is applicable regardless of industry—even if you’re not looking for a professional position, dressing to the nines will make you stand out as a serious candidate.

Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and conduct yourself with a good, enthusiastic attitude. Take notes after each interview to avoid forgetting even the smallest detail.

Keep your visits at each booth short and avoid letting the conversation become a monologue. Treat everyone professionally, including other job seekers. You never know where that next connection might come from, and odds are everyone has insight to share.

3.  Follow Up

After you get home, review your notes. Decide which organizations made an impression on you and which ones didn’t. Then organize your huge stack of business cards and start the follow-up process. Be polite and succinct with your emails, and consider sending out a few hand-written thank you notes as well.

In addition, don’t forget to apply for any interesting positions online. Just handing over your resume doesn’t mean you’re being considered for the position. When you do apply, remember what was important from the recruiter’s viewpoint, and reference your conversation.

What has been your job fair experience? Let us know in the comments section below!

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