Job fairs are crowded conventions that are swelling with people who want the same position you do. It’s easy to get lost in the mix and become just another average applicant. If you’re going to take the time to attend one of these events you need to be prepared with a bag of tricks to help you stand out from the crowd.
Do your research first, and learn about the companies and the open positions. Then develop a plan of action. “Going into the event with a strategy will ensure you talk with and meet those organizations you are most interested in,” says Andrea St. James, career counselor at Western New England University. “Without a strategy, you may miss a company or opportunity to gain valuable contacts,” she adds. If you can map out which companies you want to speak with, you will be able to better utilize your time.
Be realistic about the amount of time you have — it won’t be much. “Prepare your elevator pitch — who are you, what experiences do you have, what motivates you, what makes you unique — and practice it. Make yourself stand out,” says Sara Love, Manager of Experiential Programs at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Be ready to think on your toes, too, and to show off your people skills. “Since job fairs focus on live interaction, job seekers are best suited highlighting their communication skills and their ability to articulate their understanding of what the job entails and how their experience, education and skills would be a good fit,” explains Mike Vogel, Director of Shaker Virtual Events.
Finally, don’t forget that resume! A job fair is like a regular interview, and you should be prepared with paperwork, be professionally dressed and ready to be offered a job on the spot.