Successfully Preparing for a Career Fair

April 2nd, 2018

When you see an announcement for a career fair in your area, don’t just dismiss it without taking a closer look. Even if you’re happily employed, or you’re actively seeking work but you don’t think this particular fair has anything to offer you, look again. Some career fairs showcase a surprisingly diverse group of employers from different industries, and you never know when a job fair might light a spark or introduce you to an important new contact. Opportunities are everywhere! And career fairs often become sources of kismet and coincidence that can change lives. If you decide to show up on the scheduled date and time, keep these tips in mind.

Dress nicely.

Look sharp, since you’ll be interacting with lots of people who will see you for only a few seconds and will have little else to go on while gathering a first impression. Eye contact and a pleasant expression will go a long way as well.

Take it in.

Keep your head up and feel the vibe in the room. Scan for friendly faces and keep your ears open. If you overhear a conversation that intrigues you, it’s okay to drop in. As in, “Excuse me, did you just say you know Sally Johnson? I know her too,” or, “Excuse me, did you just mention the X corporation? I have a connection there and he has a position he urgently needs to fill.” Don’t stare at your phone and tune out the world. At a career fair, this can lead to missing out, missing the point, and missing your moment.

Be patient and calm.

Desperation is unfortunate, since it can actually keep the things we desperately need away from us instead of drawing them closer. Even a vague sense of restless urgency can come across poorly and can be off-putting. So relax. Prepare to wait in some long lines. Don’t demand anyone’s attention or validation, and don’t say “I’m sorry” when you actually mean to say “Hello” or “Here’s my resume” or “It’s nice to meet you” or “I’m looking for a full-time position as a senior market analyst.” Anxious people do this all the time at job fairs, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Bring lots of resumes.

You’ll probably distribute your resume to some employers via app, email, or the cloud. But bring a stack of old-fashioned paper resumes with you as well, and try to leave as many behind as possible. Again, stay open minded about the specifics of the job or company you’d like to work for. If a certain employer might be a good fit but you aren’t sure, err on the side of leaving a resume. You can always discuss your credentials with the company in detail later on.

For more on how to make the most of your job fair experience, whether you stay for three hours or three minutes, contact the staffing and job experts at PSU.

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