What to expect at a job fair -Whether you are a college student attending a campus career fair or an experienced candidate attending a networking event, your introduction is the first opportunity that should make a good impression. If you aren’t always comfortable expressing yourself, talking to people you don’t know well, or selling yourself to potential employers, learning how to present yourself at a job fair may help.
If you are among the job seekers attending job fairs, jot down these tips to prepare for them and make the most of your time there. Many employers are present at job fairs to increase brand awareness, but also to save time on the screening process. Job fairs provide an opportunity for employers to conduct initial checks on potential candidates on the spot.
Employers have an idea of what they are looking for in a candidate for each vacancy, so anyone who appears to be cutting can be interviewed to get the process along the right path.
Job seekers who come ready will seize opportunities quickly, so this article stresses what to expect at a job fair and things you must do before attending a job fair!
What to expect at a job fair
1. A long line
Employment fair organizers may post a receptionist at the entrance to the building asking all job seekers to log in and provide a copy of their CV. After the job fair ends, all resumes are scanned into a database using the applicant tracking system software. Company managers may refer to this group of potential job seekers, immediately after the exposition or as needed and contact people who closely match their recruitment needs. In some cases, you are required to register and upload your CV online, prior to the day of the actual job fair.
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2. Crowd Control
Long lines run from the front door, around the building from the outside, and in the parking lot not uncommon at job fairs. What you don’t see right away is that the organizers inside the building may only allow small groups of job seekers to enter the actual showroom floor, like 10 to 20 people at a time or when others leave. This gives participating companies and attendees the opportunity to mingle in non-crowded conditions. Don’t be discouraged by waiting in long lines outdoors. It can mean a peaceful and pleasant environment inside.
Go to job fairs mentally ready to speak directly to corporate hiring managers, who are the in-charge. However, be aware that some of the people who represent the employers at the fair may be professional employees and not make final hiring decisions. This may be one of the reasons why an actual job offer is scarce at the fair. Treat everyone you meet with the highest respect and enthusiasm, as if your success in finding a new job depends on them.
4. Screening questions
Although formal interviews don’t usually happen until the last stage of the hiring process, you can expect screening questions as part of your career fair experience. The hiring manager participating in the career fair may ask about your qualifications, strengths and weaknesses, and whether you know any facts about the company and its competitors. This is your chance to make a solid first impression. Practice your answers to common screen questions so you can answer with confidence.
How to prepare for a job fair
Attending an event with a lot of people you don’t know can be difficult, especially if you are not the most open person in the room. But it is imperative to move forward with your career. Don’t worry: With a little preparation and practice, you’ll be able to present yourself in a professional way – and virtually stress-free.
Remember, the people you meet are interested in hiring, and they may be the employer of your future job. They will do their best to make you feel comfortable. Take some time to prepare, and you will be able to effectively present your credentials to everyone you meet. If you know exactly what to say and how to say it, it will be easier to communicate with recruiters and get the most out of the job fair.
How to present yourself at a job fair
Take the time to prepare. Don’t swing and go to the job fair without doing anything to prepare. If you have the time, consider getting a business card made out of your contact information. Make sure your resume is up to date (give it a quick change if it isn’t) and print ready copies for handing over to recruiters.
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Search for companies. If there is a list of participating companies online, check it to see who you want to meet. If you have a priority list of employers with whom you would like to communicate, you will be able to spend your time working in the room and introducing yourself.
Job Fair Tips
- Scope outside the invitee list
If you really want to know what to expect at a job fair, then don’t just be participating in the exhibition without doing some basic work first. Talk to your job center to find out which companies will be located. Often times this information will be posted somewhere on your school’s website.
Some schools allow students to register for the event, but not everyone participates. This could be a big missed opportunity given that recruiters usually have access to a subscription list and may pre-schedule meetings with attendees, says Barbara Hewitt, senior director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Direct your efforts
To make the prep work manageable, choose three to five employers you want to focus on and do your homework. Read company news, follow organizations on social media, and see if they have posted any entry-level jobs online. “You can find out what skills they are looking for by reading the job description and then talking about how it developed for them,” says Kelly Kennedy, a career counselor at the University of Virginia.
Meeting with many recruits in a row can be daunting – and selling yourself to someone may not seem like a natural thing. (Marketing majors have a good advantage.) So, practice introducing yourself to a friend on the morning of the event, as the start of a conversation sets the tone, says Hewitt. Be clear and concise: “Tell the person your name, what you are studying, and why you are interested in their company,” Hewitt advises.
If you’re still struggling with stress when you arrive at the exhibition, give yourself a warm-up by starting a company you don’t care about to “de-stress,” says Dahlstrom.
- Get out safely
Take notes during the conversation so you have talk points that you can use to send a meaningful follow-up email. To close the chat, skip your person’s CV and discover the next step in the hiring process. (“This sounds like a great opportunity. What’s the best way for me to move forward?”) Then thank the recruiter for his time and take his business card.
One more thing: You’re there to meet potential employers – don’t leave with party services, Hewitt says – don’t take any company goods with you. Plus, carrying an “I Love Target” shirt might not go well with recruits at Walmart’s booth.