Many job seekers do not consider job fairs as part of their job search. However, if you are out of work, job fairs can be an excellent way to get a job. While it’s doubtful that the job fairs you visit will look like the picture to the right, there are a number of things you can do to stand out from the crowd.
The key to making a job fair event a beneficial use of your time is to have a plan on your job fair approach before attending.
Following are some tips for making job fairs work for you:
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Job Fair Planning: While it may seem a bit extreme, planning for job fairs is very important. Many people (most) attend a job fair without any planning. They don’t know what companies will be there or where they will be located. When they get to the job fair they just wander from booth to booth, hoping to talk to someone that will hire them. Here are some of the things you should consider when creating your job fair plan to give you an advantage:
- Make a Job Fair List – There are a number of websites where you can get a calendar of all job fair events in the coming months (see the resource list at the end of this article). Fairs are planned months in advance. Make a list of the fairs that will be near where you live including the dates.
- Know Who Will be There – Once you get your list of fairs, make a list of the companies that plan to attend the site as well as the company representatives (more on this in the Research section below).
- Plan Your Booth Visits – Once you’ve made your list of companies from the step above, plan which companies you will visit and (if the job fair site offers the information), where they booth will be located. You can then make a planned approach as to the order of visits.
- Last is Best -Once the doors open, everyone will race to the closest booths. Using your visit plan from above, pick the employers that are farthest from entrance. These booths will have the fewest visitors. Once you’ve finished all of your visits at the back, move to the front. Most of the people who started at the front are now headed to the back.
- Plan to Travel – Unless you live in or near one of the top 20 cities, it is unlikely that there will be a job fair near you. You can look at the calendar of job fairs across the country and plan a trip that will allow you to attend one or more job fairs. Many employers are national employers and will be looking to hire in several locations (not just the location of the job fair).
Research: Knowing all of the details of a job fair before attending is critical to ensuring you will get the most out of the fair.
- Start to research the list of companies (from your plan). What do they do, what cities are they located in, do they hire people with your background, etc.
- See if you can find out what company representatives will be at the fair and look them up on LinkedIn or other social media to find out as much as you can about them.
- Leverage your network to see if anyone you know works at these companies or knows the company representatives. See if they can help you get introduced prior to the job fair so that they know you will be visiting the job fair.
Be Prepared: Let’s face it, companies attend job fairs to hire individuals. The more prepared you are, the better your chances are of getting additional interviews. If the interviewers see that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested in their company you have an excellent chance of getting to the next round of interviews.
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Good luck in your search,