Will Job Fairs Help You Find a Great Job?

May 2, 2017 Steven Watson, PhD, CPRW Career Change

Job fairs have gotten a bad rap over time as resembling more of a meat market than job search opportunity. While it may be easy to dismiss job fairs as a waste of time, a better option is to develop reasonable expectations regarding what can and probably cannot be accomplished by attending.

It is important to keep in mind that most employers who participate in job fairs are not necessarily looking to hire people on the spot. Instead, they use these opportunities to gain brand recognition through sponsorship promotion and meet with and identify potential candidates who, at some point, can be interviewed for available positions.

For hungry job seekers looking for work immediately, it can be frustrating to spend several hours at a job fair just to leave empty-handed.  Here are 3 tips you can use to optimize the time spent at a job fair.

Plan ahead to make sure you can take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Most job fairs are advertised in the newspaper and radio/TV and through online sources. Take a look at the list of participating employers and identify those who best fit your career goals and interests. Learn as much about these employers as you can before setting foot in the job fair.

Job fairs usually offer short workshops and presentations in relation to career and job search topics. Take a look at the options being offered and plan on attending those that most interest you.

Come prepared to offer the best impression possible; first impressions are critical.
Make sure you have high quality materials, such as résumés, bios, and related documents to distribute widely. It is a great idea to bring business cards with you that provide your personal information and possibly a succulent branding statement.  You can have personal business cards made at online sites such as vistaprint or any local printing location.

Also dress in business or business-casual attire. Showing up at the job fair looking like you stopped by on the way to the beach is not advised.

Finding a great job is a business venture in itself, so make sure people understand how important it is to you. You never know if you are talking to someone who may be making a hiring decision about you, so be prepared to treat everyone with attention and respect.

Arrive at the job fair with a networking mindset.
The best value to attending a job fair is the range of networking opportunities it provides. Spend the time it takes to develop a focused, but compelling elevator pitch about your skills, talents, and accomplishments. You generally do not have any more than a few minutes to give your pitch, so prioritize the information you want people to know about you.

A job fair is no time to be a wall flower. Actively look for opportunities to speak with other participants. Most job seekers are dealing with similar issues, anxieties, and frustrations. You will be surprised how willing people can be to share ideas and offer support at job fairs and similar events.

Job fair participation should be one approach to add to your job search toolbox as long as you recognize that the impact is probably going to be more indirect than direct. There is a previous post that offers suggestions on developing a winning job search strategy. There are also resources available online to help with job search campaign creation.

Although people do leave job fairs with employment offers, do not count on it occurring. Use the job fair to make contact with employers you want to target and begin the process of building relationships with people who may be able to help you at some point. It is also a great opportunity to practice your elevator pitch!

finding a great job, job fairs, job search strategies,

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