Many applicants fail to remember that a job search isn’t limited to only the internet. There are other ways to make a great expectation aside from just sending an attention-grabbing CV to a recruiter — making a good impression at a job fair.
Career fairs are places where companies set up booths and send their best recruiters to assess applicants that attend the fair. Your goal as a candidate is to impress the recruiter with your skills and talent and make sure they remember you for the callback.
Great Pieces of Advice to Make a Great Impression at a Career Fair
Few Days Before the Event
The best way to prepare for a career fair is to get things ready a day or two before the date of the event. The reason several candidates fail to impress recruiters is because of the lack of preparation they have done before attending the interview.
1. Learn About the Details of the Job Fair
Job fairs are always orchestrated in a way where everyone taking part and participating in the event — attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and other professionals and business entities involved — are aware of its details.
As an applicant attending job fairs, it’s best to check the details of the event from the date of its commencement, time, location, and even the list of attending companies. It’s also best to check if the job fair is catering to specific careers only as some career fairs focus on specific industries such as medical job fairs or other particular fairs.
2. Research About Details of Participating Companies
Most fairs don’t give out the details of the specific job offers the participating companies are filling. Learn which job opportunities these companies offer by researching about them individually.
The goal is to know which businesses best suit your interest in terms of industry, career opportunities, and professional growth. Your responsibility is to research beyond the basic information of the company. Learn about its industry and culture within.
Another benefit researching more about the participating companies can bring you is having the advantage of knowing which companies best suit you. It can help you discover their culture and values — a big factor to help you decide which company meets your interests.
3. Create a Priority List
Many applicants only go through one booth to another and this is their biggest mistake. Without prior knowledge about the company, your short interview won’t be as memorable as you plan it to be.
Researching gives you answers and learning about the backgrounds of these companies can help you determine which are the best companies you should make time for.
There will be several booths to represent different companies and simply going through them all is a waste of time. List down a set of criteria to see which companies you should be prioritizing on the day of the job fair. This way, you’ll be able to go through your top choices and visit other companies if you have the time.
4. Prepare Your Go-bag
There are items that you’ll be needing in a job fair. The list is fairly long but is necessary. Preparing them in advance helps you save time when getting ready for the event and exhibits considerations and thoughtfulness towards the recruiters.
The Checklist to an Ultimate Job Fair Go-bag
- CV or Resume — Prepare a handful of CVs or resumes a day or two before the event. This will come in handy when you’re visiting several booths if you wish to stay the whole day of the event. Opportunities can suddenly prevent themselves and having ammunition is like armour for war you know you’ll win.
- Portfolio (optional) — Portfolios are business documents that contain the work you’ve done in the past years that you’ve been working. It’s a document that can that immediately exhibits your skills and experience. If you are a graphic designer, developer, marketer, and even a teacher, this is a great addition to your go-bag.
- Pen — Professionals need to learn that carrying a pen is advantageous, especially when going for a job interview. A career fair is a collage of mini job interviews with at least 20 companies. Carrying a pen is convenient when filling out forms, signing contracts, and listing tips and advice from recruiters.
- Extra pen — An extra pen is always useful in times when you misplace your other pen. It can also save your fellow applicant from the awkward situation of having to wait for everyone to finish their forms first before being able to fill out her form.
- Folder — Folders are necessary to keep your business documents crease-free and tidy. It protects your documents from possible stains that it can acquire during the entire job fair. Folders also help applicants make a good impression at a job fair as submitting a presentable CV or resume is always a plus!
- A bottle of water — Career fairs last from 5 to 9 hours, depending on how big the event is. It is important to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated and alert throughout the event. Another option is to buy one from nearby kiosks or stall should you find it burdensome to carry one.
- Personal grooming kit — It’s a must to keep your appearance presentable throughout the day. Bring a mini grooming kit to stay fresh like powder, chapstick, tissue, and wet wipes. Mints are also appreciated!
- Set of clothes (optional) — Another optional item in your go-bag is a set of fresh clothes. This is more for those applicants who suffer from sweating a lot too much. If you are one of them, bring a fresh set of clothes to change into should you find yourself looking a little disgruntled.
5. Dress to Impress
Note that job fairs can take long and that there’s no use in dressing in your suits as it can only slow you down on an important event like this. There’s still a way to impress recruiters without going overboard.
The key is to keep it light and go for a sharp semi-formal semi-casual look. Men can opt for long sleeves, slacks, and comfortable dress shoes while women can opt for blouses, pencil skirts or slacks, and flat shoes or high-heels with a maximum of 2-inch heel. Dressing lightly like this can also help applicants as you move freely between booths in the fair.
The Day of the Job Fair
Every interview is a nerve-wracking experience even for professionals with years of experience already. There’s no other way around it but to brave through and make sure to leave a lasting impression at the job fair. There are no tools that can help applicants so be sure to shake off any sign of jitters before entering the career fair.
6. Have Energy and Enthusiasm to Land a Job
To have the energy and enthusiasm you’ll need to go through a day of job search and interview in a career fair, a good night’s sleep is a must. It gives you the energy to go through the day without needing caffeine to pump up your energy.
A hearty meal is also a requirement before racing to the fair as a full stomach keeps your brain focus on matters at hand. Never skip your breakfast as you’ll be needing the strength from your hearty meal to stand out from your competitors.
7. Stay Confident, Not Arrogant!
Being arrogant is like taking a path to rejection. Recruiters meet and speak with various applicants and they consider character an important factor when hiring.
In answering questions, be concise and confident. Only tell the truth and don’t go overboard with projecting your valuable side. Recruiters know how to judge characters and boasting will never get you anywhere. Let your experience and character speak for you.
8. Present CV First
One common mistake applicants commit during a job interview in a career fair is handing their CV at the end of the interview. The best way to make a good impression is to hand out your CV before you proceed with the interview. This way, they can review your application while conducting the interview.
They will also have the opportunity to browse your CV, getting the opportunity to check your achievements and accomplishments that you aren’t able to share in your introduction. If you have your portfolio, hand it over along with your CV.
9. Make Time to Note Down Valuable Advice
Some interviewers will tell you important details you won’t be able to remember at the end of the day unless you write it down. It may be an email, a great piece of advice, or even the date of the interview with the company.
Pro tip: write down the important details left by the interviewer before proceeding with another interview. This will help avoid confusing and mismatching information.
The Day of the Job Fair
Making a lasting impression never stops right after the interview because the actions you take after makes a big difference, too.
10. Follow-up With the Recruiters
Not sending a follow-up email or call is the biggest mistake young professionals commit. It’s a necessity! Sending a follow-up message two to three days after the job fair shows the recruiters that you want the job.
Recruiters meet with several applicants a day and they sometimes tend to forget candidates. Never fail to send it as it may be the thing that changes your career. Keep in mind that this step in the job search process is a necessity.
Other Things to Keep in Mind to Make a Great Impression at a Job Fair
11. Join the Event Early
The best time to join the event is the first 1 to 3 hours since it started. The early hours is the time when recruiters have the most energy and enthusiasm to speak with applicants. Take this opportunity to get the most out of the short interview you have with the recruiters in those few minutes.
The early hours also allow you to check the area and see how you can navigate your way to your top choices. At most times, the first few hours only have fewer applicants as candidates mostly attend a little later. Arrive early and be one of the first candidates to speak to these company representatives!
12. Put Your Phone on Silent Mode
It’s always distracting for others when you have a noisy phone, be it in a public or private space. Always have the decency to put your phone on silent mode or at least on low volume as the noise from it can be distracting for others.
Turning it off or putting on vibrate the only mode shows recruiters that you respect the people around you and wary of disturbing them from their interviews and focus.
There is always time to network. You can build it when in a queue and when speaking to the company representatives. When in a long queue, speak to your co-applicants and share your learnings and experiences from job interviews, previous working experiences, and even first time experience in job fairs. This will help you expand your network and learn more about other professionals’ trades and industries.
14. Check the Other Booths
There is no right timeline when you are in a job fair. Always check your options and see which of your top choices have the shortest line and start from there first. If you line up and wait for your turn in a long queue, you will only lose valuable time.
Career fairs are the best way to meet with as many recruiters as possible and it’s only a waste when you’ll only queue on booths that have the longest line.
Time is of the essence in career fairs. Keep in mind that recruiters and applicants are given the same amount of time to explore and discover who is the best fit for their company and which business best suits their needs respectively.
Network and do your best. The way you dress and carry yourself only makes a lasting impression. Your experience and skills will still speak for you and get you through. And remember, send a follow-up email or call to increase your chances of landing your dream job!