Job fairs can turn out to be win-win situations for both recruiters and job seekers. For the recruiter, getting a chance to meet and screen a number of candidates on one day and pick the most suitable to hire is worth the investment. For the job seeker, getting to meet the current top recruiters in the market under one roof is the best start to a career. Hence, it’s not something you casually walk into on a Sunday morning, but one that you need to plan and prepare for in advance, to impress employers and get hired.
While there is no guarantee that attending a job fair will fetch you a job, it certainly is a stepping stone in your job search. Even if you do not land a job right away, the contacts and the experience will definitely come in useful for future interviews and openings. Unlike submitting a resume online, meeting recruiters face-to-face gives the job seeker a unique opportunity to make personal connections. The other advantage is that you also get career counselling at a job fair.
Tips for preparing for a job fair
Do your homework: Find out which companies are going to be participating in the fair and short list the ones that you are interested in working with. Read about them on their websites and avoid asking basic questions so you can use your limited time more effectively. Pre-register for the fair if that is an option available.
Dress formally: You may be talking to your prospective employer, hence dress as you would dress for an interview at the company. Do not appear in casual attire.
Resume and portfolio: Carry multiple copies of your resume, but also follow up with an online application once you return from the fair. It is not always possible for employers to remember every candidate. It is also possible that hard copies can get misplaced or lost during a fair; so play it safe by sending a soft copy too.
Networking: Use this as an opportunity to network, not just with employers but also other candidates and organisers, your collection of business cards may come in handy in the future.
What’s in it for the employers
Corporates and recruiting agents have a lot to gain from job fairs too just like the job seekers. They gain access to a lot of aspiring candidates at one go. This is a chance for them to increase their brand value. Show-casing the company in a positive light will attract talented people. This is a chance to interact with real people rather than just scan through resumes. This is good publicity for the company as the company’s name, logo, website and other details are displayed in all the marketing material which will travel around through the visitors to their booth. Last but not the least it’s a great opportunity to meet and build networks with other companies.
Carry your portfolio: A portfolio can prove to be very useful in impressing the recruiter considering that you have very little time to interact with them at a fair. Your samples of work can help them make a quick decision about hiring you.
Prepare for an interview: Be ready to answer questions regarding your work experience, skills and performances. Students attending for the first time maybe asked their scores, marks so make sure you carry all the necessary certificates and score cards.
Be confident: The first impression does make a difference, dress smartly, give a firm handshake, make eye-contact, smile and speak clearly with confidence.
Do not initiate talks on salary, but if the company makes an offer at the fair be aware of the salary ranges in the industry for the position you are seeking.
Follow up is very important!
Take business cards from the recruiters you have met with. Make small notes about the company and job profiles on the back of the card. Use this information to follow up if they make an offer later.
Collect brochures/CDs/pamphlets or any other material available for reference. Most companies stock these at their stall. Pick these up for future reference, as you may not have time to go through these at the fair.
Remember to send a thank-you note to every recruiter you speak to at the job fair!