Prepare yourself to make a great impression on employers

Career fairs offer a great opportunity to connect with a slate of employers all on the same day. Even if the connections you make don’t lead to an interview, they are an opportunity to expand your network with employers and with fellow career seekers. Make sure you make a real connection with a least a few recruiters – and take the time to talk with career seekers you meet. You may find out tips for your own job search when talking to others who are also searching.

In order to make the most of any career fair, you need to be prepared.

Below are 10 tips to help you prepare for career fair success.

  1. Find a career fair that is the right fit for you. You can search career fairs taking place at CareerForce locations.
  2. Do your research on employers slated to be at the event. If it’s a big career fair, you probably won’t have time to meet all the employers there, so make a list of who you absolutely need to meet. Prepare questions that show interest and knowledge about the organizations whose representatives you plan to meet.
  3. Polish your resume and print plenty of copies. Then make sure you share your resume with every employer who is accepting resumes. If it’s a crowded event, you’ll probably want to lead off by handing the recruiter your resume. That way, in case you are interrupted, the recruiter will already have your resume. Need help getting your resume ready? Visit a CareerForce location near you  and sign up for a one-on-one resume review or a resume workshop.
  4. Get your portfolio ready. It should contain of copies of your resume to share. It can also contain letters of recommendations, certification information, award copies and work samples.
  5. You may want to consider having professional networking cards printed. These cards feature your name, email address, phone number, LinkedIn address and short description of your key professional skills and accomplishments. Even if a recruiter won’t accept resumes at the career fair, he or she may accept a networking card.
  6. Make sure you have reliable transportation to the career fair and arrange for others to take care of family responsibilities, such as daycare, while you will be attending.
  7. Dress for success, but make sure you’re comfortable. You might be able to manage a slightly tight suit or high heels for a single interview, but if you will be on your feet for hours you need to make sure you look – and feel – professional. Wear shoes that would fit well in the work environment you’re looking to join, but that are still comfortable to walk in. If it’s winter time, check your coat or leave it in your car so you aren’t lugging it around and getting overheated. If you are carrying a bag, make sure it is neat looking and not so heavy it will wear you out before the career fair is over.
  8. Practice your “elevator speech” pitch. Develop a 20-30 second introduction of yourself that includes your name, your area of expertise, your accomplishments and what kind of position you’re seeking.
  9. Make a great impression. At the career fair, visit employers alone, even if you came with friends. Introduce yourself professionally, share your resume and ask relevant questions and answer questions clearly and concisely, showing the knowledge you acquired about the company. Collect company information, request a business card, and ask about follow-up procedures.
  10. Remind employers of your interest. After the fair, send a thank you message to those employers you met with within a day or two of the career fair. Within the next few days, call employers you met with to remind them of your continued interest.