Considering how much we rely on technology, it can be surprising that some of the best job search techniques were created long before iPhones and three-hour Avenger films. Networking, and making a one-on-one human connection, is still the most effective way to get a job, and there is no better place to do this than at a job fair. Wondering how to get the most out of your job fair experience? Here are four things you need to do:
Create a Plan of Attack
If we’ve learned anything from Game of Thrones, besides the fact that dragons exist, it’s that strategy matters. Success at your job fair may not rely on you conquering the Night King (if it does, you may need to question your selection of job fairs), but rather creating a plan of attack. You need to learn what types of jobs are being offered, whether they are doing on-site interviews, and any other specifics that will help you better plan out your day. Most of this pertinent information can be found on the event’s website, or on the social media pages of the companies that are taking part.
Once you have the information, put together a rough plan for your day. Running from table to table can eat up precious time, so having an idea of what companies you want to visit will help you optimize your time. If you have certain companies you want to spend extra time with, plan to visit them first thing in the morning before the crowds begin to build.
Be Interview-Ready… Even If You Aren’t Going To Be Interviewed
Interviews may not occur on-site, but you should come prepared with interview-style answers. You will be having conversations with Hiring Managers throughout the day, and they will ask questions that are reminiscent of an official interview. You want to be able to answer these questions with the company’s specific needs in mind. Be ready to talk about how you fit into both the job and the company’s culture. On a day where a Hiring Manager may talk to 100+ job seekers, it’s your best way to stand out.
Dress The Part
It’s a fact that casual work environments are becoming the norm, and t-shirts and jeans are an acceptable wardrobe for many offices. While a job fair may offer these types of job opportunities, it’s still preferable to dress like you would for an interview. While there will be jobs where shorts and flip-flops are a regular Monday occurrence, there also plenty of others where business professional is the preferred office attire. Dressing professionally will not hinder your chances of being considered for a job, but dressing casually certainly could.
In other words: shorts? Not today!
Network Outside Of the Booths
Job fairs are excellent places for networking, and while you may spend most of your time at the booths, you should put aside some time to talk to fellow job seekers. An impromptu conversation can be mutually beneficial, allowing you to trade experiences, advice, and gain new information that can help your search. Additionally, its super cathartic, and it may set you up for a referral opportunity down the line. Be ready to trade LinkedIn handles and email addresses. If you can afford it, it may be worth investing $15 into some personalized business cards so you don’t have to keep writing down your information or waiting for someone to find your LinkedIn account.
One last piece of advice: come to the job fair with an open mind. Use this chance to speak with companies you’ve never heard of, and don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities that seem new to you. All skills are transferable, and job fairs are a great place to learn that the things you learned at your last job can set you up for success in a new field.