How to Prepare for a Job Fair: Advance Planning and Preparation Tips to
Get the Most Out of It
Learn how to prepare for a job fair well and it will pay big dividends in your career development.
What are they and who attends
Career or job fairs are usually organized by various organizations such as employer bodies, career council bodies and educational organizations to name a few. Employers are invited to participate in these events and talk to prospective candidates about their companies, potential job openings and career paths.
These events present a good opportunity to not only learn about other companies but also about specific careers or professions particularly if you are thinking of making a career change.
Follow some of the tips below to learn how to prepare for a job fair in advance and get the most out of these events.
Types of events
Employers come to job and career fairs with different things in mind which then determines the type of events they participate in.
Some of these events are explained in more detail below:
- Handing out application forms - most employers come to career or job fairs to promote their company based on specific job openings that they have. They hand out career guides to those who express an interested candidates. Human Resources staff and managers from other departments usually attend such events to present their company and talk to candidates.
- Company presentations - usually last between 30mins to 1hr and company representatives present to an audience various facts about their company. These include company overview, career paths and opportunities, information on their recruitment process and next steps for those interested in applying for openings. Senior managers usually attend such events and are available afterwards to have more detailed discussions with interested candidates. If you plan and learn how to prepare for a job fair you can ask targeted questions during these sessions.
- Department specific presentations - are similar to company presentations except that they are more focused around a particular department. Department managers and their staff make presentations about the type of work done in their area, what it is like to work there, career development opportunities and career paths. It is usually possible to have a one-on-one discussion with the company representatives and collect more detailed information either before of after the presentation.
- Campus interviews and assessments - are held by some companies who want to pre-screen interested candidates at job and career fairs. Those who are not successful are gently encouraged not to apply for the next stage. Given the nature of these events it pays to prepare well in advance so you can improve your chances of making it to the next round.
- Guidance sessions - can range from anything between general career guidance sessions, tips and techniques on how to apply for positions and what companies look out for in their recruitment process. You can have a better quality discussion with company representatives as not many people attend these events. Consider attending them - you will be surprised at how much you find out.
- Virtual fairs - job and career fairs can also be on-line events and are sometimes known as virtual fairs. There is some level of interaction possible through chat screens, etc. and can be useful if you are pressed for time or distance.
How to prepare for a job fair and get the most out of them
A little advance planning on your part and learning how to prepare for a job fair will go a long way in getting the most from your visit to the event.
You will be able to collect good quality information that will help you in your career planning effort.
You will also be able to make good contacts for future follow-up.
These eight tips below will show you how to prepare for a job fair and get the most out of them:
1. Establish goals and objectives
This is in two levels. First, you need to have some idea about your own career goals and objectives. Second, you need to establish what you specifically want to achieve during and after your visit to the job and career fair.
Think about the information you want to collect. Is it company, career or job related or a combination of all three? Do you want to use the opportunity to establish some new contacts?
Do you have some questions based on your career research so far that you want to further investigate?
Answers to these questions will help you on how to prepare for a job fair.
2. Research companies
Before you head out to the job and career fair it is a good idea to do some preliminary research. Go through the tips on
how to do effective company research.
It will give you a lot of good information on how to prepare for a job fair.
It will also give you additional questions to ask the company representatives at the career fair.
3. Review the career fair schedule
Most job and career fairs publish a schedule or event guide in advance. Take a look at it so you can get an idea of the employers who will be there and the timings for any specific events such as employer presentations that may want to attend.
If you are unable to get this information in advance then try and spend the first 10 minutes planning this once you arrive at the career or job fair.
This will help you target certain employers or events and get the most from your visit.
4. Target certain companies/events
Most job and career fairs have a lot of employer stands and it is unlikely you will be able to visit all of them. It may also be a waste of your time trying to get to all of them as by now you should have an idea of specific objectives that you want to achieve during the visit.
Plan in advance on which companies or events you definitely want to target and develop a game plan in your mind to get to those. This time is well worth spending on how to prepare for a job fair.
Remember, these events are a great opportunity to meet and talk to company representatives and ask them specific questions based on your objectives and prior research.
5. Prepare for the event
Apart from writing down the questions you want to ask you may also consider doing additonal preparation for specific events such as campus interviews and assessments. These are screening events and if you are serious then prepare well. The company research you have done will give you additional information on how to prepare for a job fair.
If you are planning on attending screening events such as interviews then try and find out how the interviews will be run, what areas will be covered and so on. A phone call directly to the recruitment section of the employer or to the career fair organizer may yield some results.
Once you find this information use it to prepare in advance. It is a good idea to practice in advance either in your mind or asking a friend to stage a mock interview. If your friends have similar experience ask them for tips on how to prepare for a job fair.
6. Take a copy of your resume and look presentable
Remember to take a copy of your resume or cv with you - it may come handy.
Also, look smart and presentable - the employer representatives are also evaluating you so try and create a good first impression.
7. Ask questions and take notes
Take along with you the list of questions you want to ask.
Also, take a journal or note book with you and write down the information you gather after each meeting or discussion.
By the time you have finished meeting the tenth employer it is unlikely you will clearly remember what the first one said!
Use this opportunity to ask for contacts or names of people who might be able to give you additional information.
8. Collate the information into one document
Hopefully by now the tips you have used on how to prepare for a job fair have yielded good results and a lot of information.
Once you get back from the job and career fair it is time to collate all the notes you have written down into one document.
This will enable you to organize your information into a useful format and also assist you in comparing different employers in terms of job opportunities, career paths, etc.
9. Review and follow-up
Review your notes and follow-up after the career fair.
If there are people to follow up or things you need to do then make sure you do them.
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