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.