I hate to say it but summer is winding down. I know school kids in Georgia have gone back to school, and I drop off my two college students in the next 2 weeks. It’s been a great summer, but now for many people it’s time to start up that job search again. Job fair season is starting and it’s time to prepare to make a great impression on employers that will be at the event.
After 25+ years in the staffing industry, here are my Top 5 Tips to Prepare for a Job Fair.
- Have plenty of clean copies of your resumes ready
I know it sounds obvious, but I’ve been at many job fairs where people run out of copies of their resume. As you will be talking to many, many people, having that resume to guide the conversation and take notes on is critical. Before you leave a resume with every employer at the event, see if they offer the type of job you’re interested in rather than handing every company a resume and hoping you’ll get hired. As an employer I’d rather leave a job fair with less resumes, but ones of people who really match my company’s needs and could be a great match for our environment. More resumes handed out does not equal a new job.
- Do your research on the companies attending
And prioritize going to speak to the ones that offer the best match for your career goals. I’m always impressed when someone has taken the time to research my company ahead of time and can make reference to something they saw on our website or social media sites. This extra time preparing ahead of the job fair will pay off as you talk to employers. Don’t forget, you can take notes and read them again before going to each employer’s booth.
- Dress professionally
It’s summer and hot and humid out, but you should still dress more professionally when you attend a job fair. As my mother always said, “I’d rather be over dressed then underdressed,” and for job seekers this is especially true. Be dressed professionally – a collared shirt and slacks or shirt and tie for men. Women can wear slacks or skirts and an appropriate top. A job fair is not a fashion runway so you don’t have to go over the top, but remember that you want to make a good impression and being dressed professionally always helps.
- Be prepared to talk about your skills and experience
I’ve been at job fairs where people say they’re interested in any job we have open. I know that’s not true, but they’re not confident in how to talk about themselves so they express interest in anything. I’d rather hear about your successes on the job. What unique traits you can bring to the job and our company? Practice what you want to say. Write a script or practice how to tell people about your background and experience. A brief one minute overview is perfect.
- Be enthusiastic
Going to a job fair and looking for a job are hard work. No one loves doing it, but how you present yourself at the event gives an employer a glimpse into what type of employee you’ll be. So be enthusiastic. Have a smile on your face. Make eye contact and show interest in talking to each employer. Your energy is contagious, which can be good or bad, so bring on the good energy and have fun. Learn about the employers and make connections with the people at each booth.
Let me know if you try any of these tips and how they work for you.