What to Do at a Job Fair

Career Fair SuccessWith unemployment trending downwards, the labor market for employers is becoming increasingly competitive. Companies are finding new and more aggressive ways to target job candidates. One of these methods is the job fair. At a job fair, there are typically multiple employers present and available to meet with job seekers. Here at A Better Resume Service, we’ve recently compiled the most up-to-date list of Chicago area job fairs you can find anywhere.

Job fairs are an excellent way to get a lead on new jobs. Different from just sending off resumes to job postings you find online, a job fair allows you to meet in person with a representative from a potential employer. You can almost think of it as a mini interview and you should prepare yourself in the same way.

10 Tips for Job Fair Success

1. Dress professionally. Wear the same attire you would to a job interview in your targeted field. Remember, you are making your first impression in person, so put your best foot forward

2. Bring your resume. Take multiple copies of your resume with you to hand out to potential employers. Print on heavy resume paper and keep them with with you in a folder or portfolio so they don’t get creased or torn.

3. Prepare your pitch. Since there will be a lot of other job seekers at the fair, prepare a short pitch about yourself to share with potential employers. In your pitch, briefly describe your employment history, what positions you have held, what type of position you are looking for, your skills, and what value you can add to their organization.

4. Target your search. Don’t waste your time and the time of others by talking with employers you don’t want to work for. You probably won’t have time to talk with everyone, so narrow down your list and schedule your time there strategically. Often times, a list of employers will be posted in advance. Look at the companies who will be present and research what kinds of positions they already have open on their website. You don’t want to waste your time talking to someone who doesn’t even have a job that fits your qualifications.

5. Be polite. Remember, first impressions are key and you are going to be in a room full of potential employers are watching you. Act the same as you would in the workplace. Leave the dirty jokes and swear words at home. Spit out your gum. Take your baseball cap off. Respect your time and the time of others.

6.) Take notes. Bring a notepad with you to record any important information you might come across, such as available openings, further informational sessions, interview dates and times, names and contact info, projected hiring dates, and any other information that might affect your job search.

7.) Respect promotional materials. Employers often bring promotional materials or give aways to job fairs. Common things include pens, notepads, pins, stickers, USB drives, etc. Don’t use this as an opportunity to to increase your stress ball collection.

8.) Be confident. Don’t be shy. Ask questions and express your interest in joining their organization. The more people you can meet and talk with, the more likely you will be asked to come in for a real interview. If you just wonder around without speaking to anyone, you’re wasting your time.

9.) Find out the next steps. Remember, there are a lot of other potential applicants waiting behind you, so don’t monopolize the recruiter’s time.  Ask what the next steps in the hiring process are.

10.) Follow up. If you don’t follow up, you will have wasted your time at the job fair. Take notes on what the next steps are in the hiring process. Collect business cards so you have the name and contact info of the right people. For the employers you are interested in, send a simple thank you email reiterating your interest. Try to bring something up you talked about so you jog their memory and they can put a face to your name.

Interested in a finding out job fairs are coming up? We’ve compiled a full list of job fairs in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs that is updated weekly.

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