You want to make a great first impression to prospective employers, and when you attend a career fair, you're basically meeting with several prospective employers simultaneously.
Obviously, you'll want to take advantage of each career fair you attend.
Here are a few tips you can try.
Before Attending a Career Fair
Know what your purpose is – What is it that you want to achieve at the career fair you're going to?
It may be that you'd like to get interviews lined up with certain companies as quickly as possible. Or maybe you simply would like to learn about the companies that you are interested in.
Know what to expect at each career fair – If the career fair has a website, make sure you visit it. Know who is sponsoring the fair, as well as the employers who will be attending it.
If you come across companies that interest you, research on those companies extensively.
Get your resume ready – Take the time to carefully proofread your resume. Print several copies on high quality paper.
If you're looking to apply for different jobs in several fields, it's important that you create different versions of your resume for each field. Each version should highlight your most relevant qualifications.
Have your business cards ready – These days, it's not at all expensive to have business cards printed. In fact, there are business card templates you can customize so you can print out your own business cards at home.
You'll be handing out these business cards to employers who prefer not to accept full resumes at the career fair.
Practice your spiel – You're going to have to introduce yourself briefly at every booth you visit at the fair. It's a good idea to have your opening lines ready.
Practice saying your name, giving a summary of your background, and describing the position you'd like to be hired for. Practice this until you're able to do this in less than two minutes.
Make sure you come off sounding natural when you deliver your speech too. You don’t want to make it seem rehearsed when you deliver it.
Take a friend with you – You can attend career fairs alone, but you may benefit from attending with a friend.
You can touch base every 3 or 4 booths, for instance. Use this time to share feedback and even give each other an encouraging word.
Dress to make a great first impression – At career fairs, business casual is best. You can't go wrong wearing dress pants and shirt and simple accessories. You need to be well-groomed as well.
Wear shoes that won't hurt your feet because you'll be walking and standing for hours. Give your shoes a good polish too.
Be a volunteer – If you want inside information, the best way is to volunteer. You make personal contacts easily by volunteering.
Weeks or months before the career fair, give the organizers a call and ask if they have volunteer positions.
While You're at a Career Fair
Be there early – When you get there before most job hunters arrive, you'll be able to talk to recruiters and actually spend a lot more time with them. Also, recruiters are likely to remember you.
Zero in on your top prospects – What companies do you want to see during the career fair? Make a list. You'll want to plan your time so you can visit the booths of your top prospects.
Be approachable and friendly – Keep a smile on your face while you're at the fair. Offer your hand when you are meeting people for the first time and give them a good handshake.
When you're talking to recruiters, let them see your enthusiasm. It's not only your skills and experience that potential employers evaluate, but your personal qualities too.
Don't get too crazy on the freebies – It may be tempting to grab all the free water bottles, key chains, or whatever else that recruiters are giving away. However, you want to keep a professional appearance during the career fair.
So if you're going to grab any freebies, make sure that your bag or briefcase will be able to hold them inconspicuously.
Be ready to follow up – Make sure you get the name and contact information of the recruiters or company representatives you talk to. In today's world, it's perfectly acceptable to send them a personalized thank you message by email.
This will show prospective employers that you're serious and will even keep the doors of communication open.
Career fairs are excellent events for networking and introducing yourself to prospective employers. You can continue using online tools for your job hunt, but make sure you attend one or two career fairs to cover as many bases as possible.