A group of potential employers and recruiters all in one place and looking to hire? It sounds like a job seekers dream but it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to network and get to know the people you’re applying to work for.
So how can you prepare to make the most of visiting a job fair? We’ve broken it down into four stages; before the fair, on the day, during the fair and after it.
Depending on the size of the job fair you may want to bring one copy per job stand so that you’re ready. If it’s a particularly big job fair then try to work out how many will be relevant to you and print a few more than that (you don't want to run out!). Your CV should only be 1-2 pages so you should print them double sided if possible. That way you’re only handing them one piece of paper and there’s no chance of the two halves getting separated.
If you have personal business cards then bring them. A business card is not essential but if you have one it will make you look both prepared and professional so make sure to bring enough!
A job fair is a fantastic opportunity to speak to the people who will be involved in hiring you so you want to make a good impression. Find out which companies will be there and research the ones most relevant to you. You can use the knowledge you gather on the company to show that you have a real interest in working for them. Typically the first question they will ask is “why do you want to work for us?” so you should be ready with reasons you are interested in their company.
Making a good first impression is important. You will need to dress smartly, as though you are attending an interview. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes (but not trainers) as you will be on your feet quite a bit. If you want to see more ideas of what to wear to look professional then check out our blog.
This will include a notepad for writing down contact details, a couple of pens, a diary/calendar so that you can schedule meetings whilst you are there and a bottle of water. You will often be given marketing materials so bring a small bag so that you will have somewhere to put them whilst you are speaking to other employers.
depending on the size of the job fair it may be worth walking around it once to work out the busiest stands. If you are given a map then sit down and circle the stands you are most interested in. This will help you plan a route to make sure you don’t miss anyone.
If you have enough time then it is worth visiting the employers you are least interested in first. This gives you the chance to warm up, practise your pitch and make sure you come across as confidently as possible for the ones you really care about. However, you will need to remember to keep an eye on the time and factor in the potential for waiting to speak with some employers. If you feel like you are running out of time then go and see your top choices as quickly as possible!
When speaking to the employers always ask if they mind if you take some notes. They often won’t and will appreciate that you are taking the initiative to record important information. Write down the company name and the name of the person you spoke to. Ask them for their business card or contact details if they do not have one. You should ask what the next steps are (who needs to contact who and when). If possible find out the dates they plan to interview so that you can keep the days free for this.
Using your research try to ask questions about the organisation. Some other question you could ask might be:
Using the contact details and business cards you gathered, send a thank you note to the person you spoke to. This could be an email, card or letter. This acknowledges the time they spent with you, creates direct contact and gives them a positive memory of you.
If you were asked to email your CV to a specific person or come along to meet someone then make sure you do this. There is nothing worse than making a good first impression and then letting them down by being late or not getting in touch. If you leave it too long then you risk missing out on the roles they have.
Try to find the people you spoke with on LinkedIn. Even if you aren’t able to work with them immediately they are great to add as part of your network as a long term opportunity.
Attending a job fair is a great way to get to know employers and help them find out more about you.
Can you think of any other tips on how to get the most out of a job fair? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re looking to meet with experienced recruiters you don’t need to wait for the job fairs. Check out our branch locator for your nearest team and give them a call to find out more about how a recruitment agency can help you!