Job Fairs

Why Go?

To make a good (or great) impression in person (especially important if your resume doesn't necessarily stand out from the crowd) To learn more about employers than you can learn from their web site. You learn about the culture of an organization when you meet their people, and you can ask questions.

TIP: Prepare a 20-30 second introduction to use with potential employers;
Carry a simple portfolio to keep your resumes organized and ready.

Before You Go

Know which employers are attending and do your research Go to any fair where the employers and their jobs interest you, regardless of your certification and who is sponsoring the fair Do enough research to make "A" and "B" lists of employers to meet. With a large fair, you probably won't have time to speak with every employer (and every employer may not be offering what you seek).

You don't need to study employers' financial reports to prepare, but you do need to have some sense of what the organization does, and if there is a fit between your skills and interests and the employer's needs. Also, if you're looking for more than one type of job – like technical sales or production management – you'll need to know which employers are looking for what so you can give each employer an appropriate resume.

Have plenty of copies of your resume ready. You might need to prepare more than one version. Always take paper resumes to a career / job fair. (Even if you submitted your resume in advance to a resume book for the fair, take resumes with you. Employers won't flip through a resume book while they speak with you, and some resume books are provided electronically rather than in paper form.) And if you're looking for more than one type of position, each being significantly different (like web design and programming), you'll probably need two different versions of your resume, each tailored to support the different objective. This does not mean that you need an individualized resume for each employer at a fair. It simply means that when you speak to an employer and say that you are interested in a certain kind of work, you don't hand the employer a resume that has nothing to do with that kind of work. (Nothing wrong with an employer giving you a new idea on the spot — be flexible and respond appropriately.)

At the Job Fair

Watch your manners and mannerisms. All those things your parents drilled into you when you were a child (and a few more). Stand up straight, don't hang your mouth open, don't fidget, do speak up and speak clearly, don't chew gum or smell like smoke. Have a good handshake and make good eye contact. Don't be misled into thinking of the fair as a social event.

Employers often send recently hired new graduates to career fairs. Don't fall into the mistake of interacting on a social level and forgetting that you are being judged on your potential to function in the work environment. Carry a simple padfolio to keep your resumes organized and ready. Many fairs have you check your bags at the door because the event is crowded. Be ready to hand employers the appropriate resume.