What Is a Job Fair & How Do You Nail It? A 101 Guide for First-Timers
Although nowadays it’s pretty easy to apply for a job online, many aspiring specialists prefer to visit career expos. While it may take weeks (or even months!) before you meet with recruiters, career fairs allow you to see them all in one place, making it easier to explore all the options.
However, no one says you’ll land a job in no time. There are dozens of other professionals looking for a promising career, and the competition is equally fierce whether you attend an offline job fair or a virtual one. Therefore, it makes sense to do your homework before the next event.
Let’s explore the types of job fairs, how not to miss one, what you need to do, and how to prepare for your stunning presentation and interviews with recruiters.
What’s a Job Fair in Simple Terms?
Job fairs, also known as career expos, are hiring events where people looking for jobs can meet employers: recruiters, hiring managers, and talent acquisition consultants. They all represent a great variety of potential employers, i.e. companies looking for talented professionals. A job fair is a perfect place to have conversations with the representatives of companies from numerous industries and inquire about vacancies.
Most job fairs are held in big venues that can accommodate many people (usually, it’s schools, convention centers, etc) and have enough room for the attendees to set up booths and queue. But today, we also have virtual career expos—a means to connect employers and employees online.
How Do Virtual Job Fairs Work?
Alternatively, people who wish to explore job opportunities can meet with talent acquisition consultants on online platforms. Thus, attendees feel more relaxed when chatting with company representatives. These events became especially popular in 2020 when in-person meetings were out of reach.
The biggest advantage of virtual events is that job seekers can not only meet with the representatives of local companies and organizations but also with international firms looking for talent. So, virtual fairs can both be more comfortable for everyone and open a lot more job opportunities.
How to Search for a Job Fair?
Most of the time, you will be able to find any information you need online, which won’t be a challenge. However, besides browsing the web, you can find information about upcoming job fairs in some other sources:
Look for ads in local magazines and newspapers
Visit your nearest placement bureau
Pay attention to billboards and roadside signs
How to Get Ready for a Career Expo?
When visiting a job fair, there’s a great chance you find many promising opportunities. Although you’ll still be far from your job offer, it’s a great time to present yourself in the best light possible—all it takes is some preparation.
What to Bring Along
The most important thing is to prepare a so-called elevator pitch (a brief speech used as a presentation of yourself). After all, there will be many talented specialists queueing up to talk to hiring managers—and you’ll need to stand out in a short time.
During your pitch, you should quickly impress the potential employer with your soft skills and tell them about your experience, strong sides, and so on. Once the talking part is over, make sure to give them your resume.
Accordingly, make sure your resume can catch the eye of a potential employer. Although it doesn’t always work for a career fair, try to make targeted resumes.
Along with the personal and professional details, include your photo. Instead of looking for a photo studio near you, try AI headshots and create a proper image for your resume online.
What to Wear
Nowadays, each company looks differently at the way their employees should dress, and some employers allow wearing casual outfits that make everyone feel comfortable. However, a casual outfit doesn’t always work.
Although your communication with company representatives cannot be considered a job interview, you should think of them as such and dress appropriately—formal outfits are a tried-and-true option. Hence, you can’t go wrong with smart attire.
What to Research Beforehand
Having found an upcoming event, you should find out everything that’s possible about the participating companies and compile a list of the ones that interest you. There will also be firms from other industries—leave them out of your list and focus on the ones matching your career goals.
Once the list is complete, it makes sense to research everyone in it. Understanding what the company stands for, what they do, and what their mission and goals are gives you a better chance to impress them.
What to Do When at a Career Fair
Assess the Situation: Once you come to the event, there will be crowds of people standing in lines, which might make it all a little confusing and frustrating. To avoid this, find the booths of the organizations you wish to speak to and pay attention to the lines (after all, it doesn’t make sense to stand in line if other booths are free).
Ask All the Questions You Need: Many attendees believe that these events are only for recruiters to ask questions, but it’s not like that. You also explore open positions: that’s why you should prepare the most important questions you need answers to. This way, you will know for sure whether this is the position you need. For instance, you can ask about on-the-job training, growth perspectives, work environment, etc.
Ask for Business Cards: After the event, you’ll hardly remember the contact information of the hiring managers you talked to. A business card is not a make-or-break thing but it might be useful in the long run. It’s not only about their names, but you can also write some important conversation details on the backside. If you get a job interview, these business cards will make it easier to connect with the recruiter.
What You Should Do After a Career Fair
A sign of good manners would be to call or send follow-up emails to the people you met. Say your thanks for a great conversation and enclose your resume in digital form (make sure you get the resume right).
It’s not only about good manners: more importantly, you’ll remind them of yourself. By doing this, you will stand out among dozens of other potential candidates and leave a lasting impression.
Moreover, you can mention some specific details of your conversation at the fair—this will show that you’re interested in the job positions they offer.
Make the Most Out of Visiting a Job Fair
Whether you attend an offline event or a virtual one, it’s a great opportunity to explore job opportunities, meet people, and connect with the industry. If you want everything to go smoothly, take time to prepare in advance: follow these easy tips, and you’ll land your dream job before you know it!