Advice for Attending Job Fairs
Job fairs can either be an incredible networking opportunity or an incredible waste of time. Like most aspects of the job search, thorough preparation and strategic follow-up are crucial to success. Also, many job fairs have moved online with Covid-19–that said, you should still prepare for them the same way you would with in-person networking events.
Here’s how to make the most of your next event:
Once you find out what companies will be present, do some additional research to help prioritize the ones you’d like to target. Don’t waste your time talking to companies that are obviously not a good fit. Check the company websites for specific job postings you find interesting and apply online ahead of time. It’s always important to update and bring printed copies of your resume or any other materials you might need.
Memorize your elevator pitch.
Remember that you’re indirectly competing with everyone else who attends the event. Tell an honest, but unique story, and prepare to say it over and over again. You’ll want to quickly and clearly communicate who you are, what skills you can offer and some specifics regarding your ideal scenario.
Be a professional.
Arrive early to ensure that you’re able to meet with each company you’re targeting. We recommend treating each interaction just as you would a traditional job interview. Dress to impress (even if it’s virtual). Be enthusiastic. Stay engaged. Give a firm handshake. Even though job fairs tend to be more casual than interviews, be careful not to overshare information about your health, personal opinions or political affiliations. And try not to be that person who mulls around and takes all the tchotchkes without making eye contact with anyone.
Make your time count.
As you interact with recruiters, try to collect as many people’s contact information as possible. Ask good questions, and try to make small connections with people so you can reference it later when you follow up. If you’re standing in line waiting to talk to a representative, study the company literature or listen to the conversations going on in front of you to glean as much information as you can. It’s also important to be nice to everyone, including other job seekers or event staff. You never know what interaction might make (or break) your next opportunity.
Follow up and follow through.
Taking copious notes during (or immediately after) the event will help you organize your next steps. You’ll want to remember names, titles, contact information and any additional instructions on how to follow up. It’s also helpful to jot down any personal connections you make with recruiters (i.e. shared hobbies, sports teams, alma maters) so you can be sure to include this in your follow up correspondence. Send a brief email to each person you met. Here’s a very simple template to get you started:
Subject: From [your full name]: Nice to meet you!
Hi [first name of recruiter],
My name is [your name], and we met today at [recruiting event]. I just wanted to thank you again for sharing your experience and for providing information about your open positions.
As discussed earlier, I’m very excited to explore further opportunities with [company name]. I really appreciated your time and helpful advice.
I’ve also attached my resume for reference, and a few of the projects I mentioned as well. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need on my end. I look forward to connecting again soon!