How to Get the Most Out of Job Fairs (Plus Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Various networking events within your industry can offer you value in your job search. Job fairs are a great opportunity to interact with a range of potential employers in-person at one central event over a short period of time. Understanding how to maximize your participation in these events can increase your chances of finding a job. In this article, we explore the definition of a job fair, highlight how to get the most out of job fairs, and outline some of their benefits.

What is a job fair?

A job fair is an event that hosts employers who have job openings within an industry. Lasting one or more days, these events serve as a temporary platform for employers to provide information about their company, open positions, and general employee experience. This fair is available to high school graduates, university graduates, and people looking to change careers. It allows them to explore available opportunities within leading companies in a specific industry and interact with representatives from these companies.

A job fair often varies in focus and size. Some job fairs may relate to various industries and include organizations and businesses of different sizes and purposes. In contrast, others might focus on a single field. For instance, a job fair may focus on the entertainment industry and target creatives, producers, and agents. Another job fair may focus on the public service industry and target social workers, police officers, and firefighters. If you're sure of your interests and aspirations, a focused job fair may provide the highest benefit, while a general fair is helpful if you want to explore several options.

Read more: What Are Job Fairs, and How Can You Use Them to Find Work?

How to get the most out of job fairs

Follow these steps to get the most out of job fairs:

1. Create a plan

Creating a plan in advance is an effective way to ensure that you maximize your experience at a specific job fair. You can begin this step by assessing the booth map or floor plan and the event schedule before you attend. This strategy informs you about the companies you can find at the job fair and where you can find each company on the day. If you're interested in certain companies, you can prioritize them and go to their booth first during the event.

Creating a plan also involves researching the companies coming to the event. This can increase your focus and confidence when interacting with hiring managers and human resource professionals. By gaining a better idea of the culture and values of a company, you can also increase your likelihood of getting an interview offer.

Related: How to Write an Action Plan to Help You Achieve Your Goals

2. Practise stress-reducing activities before the event

Job fairs typically involve conversations about your professional experience and goals, pitching your skills to potential employers, and general networking. You can prepare for these interactions by practising ways to remain calm and motivated during the event. It can help to remember that a company is there because they are actively hiring new team members. Consider developing and practising an elevator pitch, which is a one-minute summary of who you are and what you've accomplished in your professional life. This can help you demonstrate your most relevant skills to the hiring team more clearly and with confidence. You can also try taking deep breaths, standing with your shoulders back and chin high, and maintaining open and positive body language when practising your pitch to ensure you are more relaxed on the day.

3. Register for the program, if possible

It's sometimes necessary to register for the event in advance. This ensures you can gain entry to the event on the day. Try to register early if the event or venue has a limited number of people it can accommodate. Registering is also useful as it's an important opportunity for the organizers to collect your contact information. This ensures employers can access your details from the organizers if they want to contact you.

4. Dress professionally

While a job fair provides a more informal setting to engage with hiring managers, it's important you remain professional. You can achieve this by dressing in appropriate and comfortable clothing for the event. Depending on your industry, business or smart-casual attire may be most suitable. It's also important to look for information about the preferred dress code for the job fair to ensure you arrive prepared.

5. Practise your interactions

Practising potential interactions beforehand can also make you more prepared to maximize your time at job fairs. This strategy can improve your professional appeal and help you make a good impression on hiring managers. Trying working on eye contact, handshakes, your introductory statement, and more general conversations about your interests and career goals.

6. Come with relevant materials

When coming to the job fair, it can be useful to bring material you think you might need during the event. For instance, your business cards are important materials for any job fair as it allows you to provide an easy means for hiring managers and other professionals to contact you. You can also come with digital and physical copies of your resume to leave with recruiters.

Consider bringing a pen and notepad to allow you to take notes of important points while you interact with multiple people during the day. These notes can become useful materials for personalizing follow-up messages to hiring managers. For instance, if you casually discussed a common interest in cycling with a hiring manager, you can briefly include it when you e-mail the manager later in the week. This helps the manager remember you regardless of the number of candidates they spoke with during the fair.

7. Be ready for an interview

When attending a job fair, it can be helpful to prepare for an interview. While there's no guarantee for on-the-spot interviews, a hiring manager may choose to host a brief one to learn more about you. In some cases, you may be able to receive a job offer or an invitation for a more thorough interview right away. You can research common interview questions for roles in your field and practise your responses before the job fair.

8. Review your resume

To improve your chances of success at job fairs, it's important to review and update your resume. After updating it with your most recent qualifications, you can ask your colleagues and friends to review it for you before the event. If you're interested in multiple roles, creating multiple versions of your resume can also increase your chances of success. This allows you to streamline them to a specific role and demonstrate your competence and suitability for the role more prominently.

9. Consider inviting a friend

You can invite your friends or colleagues if you're aware of any looking for a job. This can help you feel more confident and comfortable exploring the event. You can begin your conversation with them, which can help you get in the mood to talk to other people.

10. Be open-minded

It's important to approach the event with a positive attitude and consider every encounter as a professional opportunity. Your opinion of a company or role can change, and these events are excellent opportunities to learn about careers you may not have considered before. You can also speak with other job seekers and collect their business cards to develop your professional network.

11. Follow up

After visiting the job fair, it's effective to follow up on conversations with hiring managers and recruiters. You can create a schedule for this to ensure you contact all potential leads and job prospects. Acting immediately after the job fair is vital to keep the interactions fresh and helps you remember details more clearly.

Benefits of a job fair

Attending a job fair offers access to various opportunities, including:

Opportunity to meet several prospective employers

Job fairs allow you to meet with several potential employers within your industry. They are a great opportunity to network with industry members, possibly impress them, and find good employment prospects. Job fairs, especially large ones, often host multiple potential employers, allowing you to get at least an opportunity to speak to recruiters and learn from them.

Job fairs also exist because employers want access to a range of capable professionals. Company representatives are usually eager and available to respond to questions from interested candidates. Compared to cold calling offices, messaging companies online, and visiting during business hours, job fairs are a better opportunity to interact with employers.

Read more: Guidelines on How to Network

Casual environment

Because of their informal setting, job fairs are an effective way to interact with potential employers in a low-pressure environment. Conversations are often more causal during job fairs, allowing you to feel more comfortable. With less pressure, you can be calmer, feel more confident, and be more likely to impress the hiring team. For instance, with a low-pressure conversation, you may have more elaborate discussions with the hiring team that allow you to demonstrate your expertise and soft skills.

Access to contact information and potential interviews

Job fairs can also help you communicate with your preferred company, including the hiring manager's direct contact information. For instance, you can visit its booth and make a good impression during your conversation with the hiring team. As job fairs are an opportunity for employers to identify suitable candidates for a role, representatives can provide their contact information or invite you to a more formal interview to offer you a position.

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