Making the Most of a Job Fair

Thelisa LavergneA job fair, also referred to as a career fair or career expo, is an event in which employers and recruiters present company information and job openings for potential job candidates on the spot. Employers maximize the advantage of a job fair to increase the company’s brand awareness and also to save time in the screening process. Employers who attend a job fair have an idea of what qualifications they are looking for in a candidate.

For job seekers, a job fair provides a wide range of employers offering job openings in a single location and what qualifications they are looking for. Therefore, it is to the job seeker’s advantage to consider making job fairs an integral part of their job search and come prepared as they would to a job interview.

Job seekers who come prepared are more likely to land a job or an opportunity for a formal interview. Actually, a job fair is a perfect opportunity for the job seeker to showcase his or her skills, present their 30-second commercial also known as an elevator speech, and ask informed questions; in other words, to make a good impression. But before attending a job fair, the job seeker should prepare for the event to gain the most out of all the job opportunities offered.

First, take time to research the companies that you are interested in applying to before the job fair. Typically, this information is advertised publicly and can be found on community job boards, television, radio announcements, library websites, etc. Knowing your target ahead of time gives you the opportunity to customize your resume and make other preparations. Also, it would help to look at the company’s website so you can see what job openings are available and the requirements for each position. This information can help you tailor your job search portfolio(resume, 30-second commercial, etc.) when you meet with employers at the job fair.

Second, dress the part — like you are going to an interview. On the spot interviews happen at job fairs, so come dressed to get a job and be ready with at least ten copies of your resume in hand. Also, be mindful of those non-verbal cues when meeting with employers. Remember to give a firm handshake, direct eye contact, a smile during introduction and discussion, and be sure to speak both your first and last name in an audible voice. Keep in mind that employers notice job candidates that come prepared and exhibit an attitude of confidence and enthusiasm – it goes a long way!

Third, be prepared with your 30-second commercial or as some call it your elevator speech. Employers are looking to hear what you can do for them, so come prepared with a quick pitch on how your skills, experience and expertise can help the company solve their problems, save time, and improve performance.

Finally, have a plan to follow-up. Just like an interview, you should plan to send a follow-up note to each person you spoke with during the job fair. This is a great opportunity to help keep your name on the mind of the employer, to reiterate your skills and abilities and what you can offer the employer. Be sure to collect business cards and take good notes to help personalize your follow-up message.

Job fairs are an excellent opportunity to network, sharpen interview skills, and practice your 30-second commercial. Networking gets jobs and job fairs offer one of the best opportunities to network. Networking is a skill that can never be practiced too much. So, attend job fairs and make the most of opportunities to get great exposure, to sharpen your skills, and to improve your chances of finding the perfect job or career.

Good Luck in Your Job Search!

Thelisa Lavergne is a member of the Regional (Texas Gulf Coast) Navigator team for Workforce Solutions. She specializes in providing training and education to the Gulf Coast community, career staff offices, and employers in assisting individuals with disabilities. She brings with her over 10 years of experience and expertise working in the nonprofit industry serving Houston’s disadvantaged community; individuals and families experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic abuse, and individuals and families experiencing hunger. However, her greatest contribution to Workforce Solutions is her compassion, commitment, and dedication to serving others. She holds a M.A. in Organizational Management, a B.S. in Training and Development, B.S. in Counseling, and a Certification as a Personal Fitness Trainer.

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