How to Make the Most of Job Fairs
Benefits of attending a job fair
- Learn about the variety of positions available to a student or college graduate.
- Talk to someone working in your field of interest.
- Gain networking and interviewing experience.
- Learn about internship and/or employment opportunities.
- Establish employment contacts and obtain referrals for job leads.
- Obtain employment. Employers indicate that career fairs and on-campus interviewing are among the top five ways they find new hires.
Before the fair
- Know your objective. Decide whether you are seeking full-time employment, co-op, internship, or networking contacts.
- Create a personal commercial to introduce yourself and present your qualifications.
- Review the list of employers coming to the fair.
- Select the top five employers you are interested in and visit them first.
- Research employers before visiting their tables
- Develop a short list of questions to ask recruiters.
- Prepare at least 20 copies of your resume on resume paper to leave with recruiters.
- Be prepared to interview on the spot, but do not expect an individual interview.
- Pack a pen, a notepad, and small breath mints (no chewing gum).
- Plan to arrive early while employers are fresh.
- Dress professionally.
During the fair
- Behave professionally, even in elevators, corridors, parking lots, and restrooms.
- If you come with a friend, separate at the door and approach each employer by yourself.
- Be organized – carry a portfolio or briefcase; avoid digging in a backpack for your resume.
- Wait until the employer asks for your resume.
- Maintain professional space and behavior when approaching the employer’s table. Avoid taking “freebies” until after your conversation.
- Use good eye contact, a strong handshake, and body language that projects confidence.
- Speak naturally – avoid presenting your personal commercial like a speech.
- Ask open-ended questions; avoid obvious questions or questions about salary/benefits.
- Collect business cards and organizational literature.
- Ask the preferred way for you to follow up and thank the recruiter by name.
- Immediately after speaking with employers that interest you, document what you have learned to follow up appropriately.
After the fair
- Send a thank you letter or email to employers you have a high level of interest in, not necessarily everyone you met.
- Follow up with a cover letter and resume to employers you are interested in. Mention you met their representative at WMU.
- File away the literature you have collected. It can be helpful later in writing cover letters or preparing for interviews.
- Improve your resume if you learned something that better reflects your qualifications or focus.
- Maintain contact with employers – perseverance pays off.