Succeeding at a Job Fair

How to Make an Impression

You’ve made all the necessary preparations, read our article on Prepping for a Job Fair (LINK HERE), and now it’s the big day. The job fair is here and it’s time to find your dream job!

You’ll need to make an impression. Standing out in a job fair can be challenging. Recruiters and hiring managers are seeing crowds of people at events like this, reading through hundreds of resumes. To succeed, you’ve got to shine!

Take a look at these surefire tips for job fair success.

1. Dress the Part

It might not be encouraging to hear, but the truth is: appearance means a lot at events like this. Recruiters and hiring managers will do what they can to narrow down their search. One of their tried-and-true methods: look at what you’re wearing. You may have heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want.” Take it to heart. Make sure you present a neat, clean appearance. That doesn’t just mean wearing work-formal clothes. It also means getting a trim, doing your nails, and smelling nice. You want to look like a professional. That said, there’s no need to go overboard. If you need some inspiration, here’s a great article (LINK: https://cpd.degroote.mcmaster.ca/student-services/mba-dress-code/business-formal-attire/) from the DeGroote School of Business on dressing business formal.

2. Arrive Early

Lines can be very long at an event like this. You don’t want to spend your limited time during the fair just waiting to get inside. Show up early to ensure you’re through the door quickly. While you’re waiting, chat it up with some of the other job-seekers. This is a great chance to pick up any knowledge they might have as well!

3. Prioritize Your Time

If you followed our advice from the preparation article, you already have a prioritized list of companies you plan on talking to. That’s great! Prioritization is an excellent way to maximize your time at job fairs. Focus on your list, but be willing to adjust. If it looks like you’ll be spending a lot of time waiting in line for your top priority, move on and circle back later. You want every minute to be productive.

4. Be Confident

“Be confident!” is one of those pieces of advice that’s easy to remember but hard to pull off. Confidence doesn’t come easily to everyone. That’s okay. As you approach the booth or table, take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your purpose: you want to land a great job! Also tell yourself that your next conversation could lead to your dream job! Shake hands firmly with the representatives you approach and introduce yourself proudly. A confident introduction can make all the difference (and it can slide nicely into that elevator pitch you’ve been working on!).

5. Ask Questions

If you have some extra time before the event, prepare a few questions for your interviewers. Try to focus these questions on what you’re genuinely curious to know. What’s the interviewer’s experience been working for the company? Is the pay competitive? What are some of the benefits? Is the company taking on any new, interesting projects? This is a chance to show your interest in the job. It’s also a chance for the interviewer to get comfortable with you.

6. Take Notes

Employers love to see candidates taking notes. It shows initiative and a willingness to go beyond. Write down anything during your time at the event that you might find useful in the future. During interviews, write down fun or interesting moments. You can use these after the event to spice up your follow-up emails or official interviews.

7. Get Business Cards

Collect business cards from everyone you talk to. We might live in a digital age, but the business card is still valuable. Collecting business cards ensures you have a way to contact the people you spoke with, and it gives you a chance to do more research. Asking for a business card is a great way to close out a conversation. Make sure you keep them somewhere out of sight, but somewhere you’ll remember later.

8. Talk… to Everyone!

Events like these are designed with networking in mind. Take advantage of that. You’re there to land your dream job, so talking with industry professionals is an absolute must. But don’t forget: everyone has something useful to say. Don’t be afraid to use any extra time (like while standing in line or grabbing some refreshments) to speak with fellow job-seekers. They might know something you don’t or have a job lead outside of the event. At the very least, it’ll help keep your conversational skills sharp.

A great job fair performance is key to landing your next incredible job. Stay calm, project confidence, and always look out for unexpected opportunities. Make sure you carry that success mindset all the way back home, too. How you handle yourself after the job fair can be just as important! Good luck!

Ready for Part 3? Click HERE for our “After The Event Success” article