Even though often relatively brief, this type of face-to-face interaction has several wonderful advantages:
- You can get a quick insider perspective of what it is like to work inside a prospective company.
- You can get immediate feedback on how employers value the information you present on your resume.
- You can directly explore and discuss open job options.
- Best of all, you have the opportunity to make the type of strong impression on a potential employer that is only possible through an in-person situation.
Rather than collecting resumes, more often clients are directed to apply online. However, don’t be discouraged by this. The in-person discussion can be highly influential in persuading an interested recruiter to search for and select out your online application for further consideration, rather than allowing it to remaining at the mercy of the applicant tracking system’s bottomless hole.
While it is true that these events are often held during the day while most people are working, a good job fair can be worth scheduling a half day of vacation if you are in an active job search. If the event is held close enough to where you work, you could also just use the lunch hour to see a few employers you have singled out to meet.
Some job fairs are specific to a particular business, but the largest ones can feature 50 employers or more. Be sure to check on which employers are participating so you can research them to identify those that best meet your interests and background. This step is critical to prioritizing your time in choosing which job fairs to attend and determining which employers deserve your attention.
In addition to researching selected employers, a few other key tips include:
- Dress as if going to an interview. In fact, some of the best job fairs provide separate space to conduct mini-interviews.
- Do bring printed resumes. Even though you will often be told to apply online, recruiters often peruse through resumes to quickly size up talent.
- Polish your one-minute elevator speech, essentially a short synopsis of your career and the best assets you have to offer a new employer.
- Act professional in all interactions, but also relax and have fun with the process.
Information on upcoming job fairs can usually be obtained through local job board websites and workforce development centers.