6 Job Seeker Tips for Impressing Employers at Your Next Job Fair
August 2nd, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson
When it comes to hunting for a new position, job seekers are acutely aware of how time consuming the process it. As a result, many turn to local job fairs to get in front of many companies and their representatives at once, rather than digitally submitting dozens of resumes and hoping for a phone call.
But career fairs are usually packed full of fellow job seekers competing against you. Merely showing up to a job fair with a positive attitude and a smile on your face won’t be enough to stand out to prospective employers. You need to come prepared with a strategy to impress employers.
With nearly 50 years of experience in the staffing world, we can help. Follow these six helpful tips to maximize your job fair experience and stand out from the rest of the pack.
1. Start your prep work.
Whether it’s spending time ensuring your resume is free of typos or preparing for job interviews, preparation is an essential element for every step of the job-seeking process.
Plan to arrive at the event with plenty of printed resumes, a pen and a pad of paper to take notes. While this may seem obvious, it’s worth mentioning. You’re going to have a number of conversations with prospective employers. Having a physical resume to hand them will help keep you top-of-mind. In addition, a pen and paper will allow you to take a few notes on each employer to keep the information you learn fresh.
Also, do your homework on which companies and representatives will be at the fair. Start by checking the job fair’s directory and compile a list of companies you want an audience with. Then, visit their websites to learn about them. Some pieces of information you’ll want to learn include:
- What is their mission statement?
- Approximately how big is their company?
- What types of roles exist within their company?
- What is the general overview of the company’s history?
The information nuggets you uncover will help you decide which employers or positions to look into while at the fair — so you can use your time wisely. You’ll also be able to use that background knowledge to drive conversations you have with employers and leave a great impression.
2. Devise a game plan for the day.
Job fairs can be sprawling events with dozens of employers to meet in only a finite amount of time. Before the event starts, devise a plan and an approximate schedule of when to visit each employer.
Use your research to place employers in tiers based on how important it is for you to see them. Who are your must-see employers? Who come in second and third?
Then determine where each of your top employers will be stationed at the event. Most career fairs will post an event map ahead of time. Using your tier system and the map, plot out your game plan.
3. Dress to impress.
Your physical appearance is a key part of your first impression — so you’ll absolutely want to dress to impress.
Depending on the types of industries represented at the job fair, the dress code expectations may vary. But it’s always better to overdress than underdress.
For both men and women, a suit is always a good choice. If you don’t have a suit, choose clean-cut, good fitting attire that features neutral, dark colors such as navy, black and gray. If you like to wear cologne or perfume, don’t overdo it. Also, many events will have snacks and coffee available, so bringing a few breath mints or a stick of gum is a savvy move to make sure your breath is fresh.
4. Ask probing questions.
Ultimately, your end goal is to leave a lasting impression on the company representatives you’ve met with — and hopefully get a call to continue the interview and hiring process.
By asking probing questions, you’ll accomplish your goal. Think back to the research you conducted before the event. Was there anything you couldn’t find on their website? Some potential questions could be:
- What are some of the challenges I’d face in this position?
- What is a day in the life at your company like?
- What’s your favorite thing about working here?
- How long have you been with the company?
- What type of growth opportunities are available?
The employers you meet at a job fair will be asked a great number of questions and will be speaking with a great deal of your competitors. You’ll increase your chances of making personal connection by asking interesting questions that require detailed responses — and you’ll also make the most of your limited time with them.
5. Prepare an elevator speech.
The typical job fair only lasts a couple of hours, making time a precious commodity. If you can sell yourself to employers with a quick 20-30 second elevator speech you will put yourself ahead of your crowded competition, and make the employer you deliver it to more interested in hiring you.
The recipe for crafting a memorable elevator speech is:
- Create an opening sentence that differentiates you from other potential candidates.
- Speak clearly and with confidence.
- Leave your listener wanting to learn more.
- Practice makes perfect — make sure you practice your speech several times before you go.
6. Ask for a business card.
When you speak to employers, especially when you feel like you’ve connected well with someone, make sure you get their business card. Asking for a business card demonstrates to the employer that you have interest in their company, and gives you a direct contact at the organization who you can follow up with.
Take Advantage of Your Next Job Fair
Attending career fairs are a great way to increase your job prospects. By preparing ahead of time, devising a game plan, dressing to impress, asking probing questions, preparing an elevator speech and asking for business cards, you’ll help leave a lasting impression and increase your chances of securing a follow-up interview or landing the job.
If you’re looking for a job fair in the Midwest, check out our Upcoming Events & Job Fairs page to learn what we have on the books.
If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level, consider partnering with a staffing agency. Check out our Job Seeker Services page to learn how Masterson Staffing can fuel your job search and help you land a job.