A job fair is a unique opportunity for job seekers to meet face-to-face with employers and make a positive first impression.
Whether you are between jobs, exploring different career options or looking for your first gig, there are a few steps that you can take that will greatly increase your chances of landing your dream job during or after a hiring event. Follow these ten tips and make the most out of your next hiring fair.
Before the event:
- Research the employers. Most hiring events have a web page that includes the employers attending and their websites. Chose the companies that are aligned with your career goals and personal values. Check if they are offering any positions in your desired field that are interesting for you. Make a list of who you want to target, as well as the positions you are interested in applying.
- Tailor your resume for each position you want to apply. This sounds like a lot of work, but an effective job search demands time and effort. Read the job posting carefully, and make sure to match your qualifications with the job requirements. There are many strategies that will help your resume stand out even if your experience is varied or if you have never worked before. And remember, you can always stop by at your local WorkBC centre and have a career advisor proofread your resume.
- Dress as if you were going to an interview. The way you dress can impact the impression you make. Don’t dress too casual for a job fair, regardless of the position you are applying for. Although different companies have different expectations in regards to dress codes, you can’t go wrong with something neat and tidy.
- Prepare an elevator pitch. Depending on how busy the job fair is, you might not have much time to speak with each employer. Maximize your time by preparing and practicing an elevator pitch or personal statement. Briefly state who you are, what you do or have done in the past and why you are interested in that specific company.
- Prepare your ‘job fair kit’. You must bring at least these essential items:
- a folder to carry your tailored resumes (identify them with a sticky note, and make sure you have the right resume at the top of the pile before heading to each employer);
- a notepad;
- a pen to take notes;
- water, as you will be doing a lot of talking; and,
- business cards if you have them.
You can also consider bringing a portfolio if you have one, and also some snacks to get you going.
During the event:
- Be confident and enthusiastic. It’s your time to shine. You know who to talk to, you have tailored your resume, you are dressed appropriately, and you have practiced your lines. Approach your targets with confidence and enthusiasm; give them a firm handshake, make eye contact and don’t forget to smile!
- Ask for business cards and make notes. Make notes about each meaningful conversation you’ve had with a potential employer or relevant connection. Write down the person’s name, position, what you’ve talked about and their recommendations about the hiring process. Although some companies may conduct screening interviews or even hire on the spot, the majority will be there to collect resumes and answer questions about their available positions. Some companies have more strict hiring processes that require that all candidates apply online. If that’s the case, make sure you ask the recruiter what they are looking for in the candidate, and if they have any recommendations in regards to the online application.
- Be patient and courteous. Job fairs can be busy, and you might have to wait in line to speak with certain employers. Think of a job fair not only as an opportunity to find a job but also as an opportunity to meet new people and network. Be nice and courteous to everyone around you, from the event staff to other job seekers that are waiting in line with you. Take the opportunity to make new connections; you never know who can introduce you to someone who can hire you.
After the event:
- Follow up. In the next 24-48 hours after the event, make sure you go through your notes and start taking action. Follow up by email with all the companies you are interested in, send a brief personalized thank you note to each recruiter you’ve spoken with. Make sure you apply online for the companies that you are interested in, even if they have picked your resume. Send a digital version of your resume and a personalized cover letter (addressed to the person you’ve spoken with) mentioning your conversation.
- Be open-minded. You can always get something out of a hiring fair. It may not be a job offer right away, but there is always an opportunity to learn, expand your network and discover new companies.
For free employment programs and all things job search-related, visit our Help for Job Seekers page.