Career Tips

Making the Most of a Job Fair

Date Posted: 11/10/2015

Job fairs come up seasonally and attract a lot of attention from a variety of employers and many interested job seekers. If you have any interest in the job market, you should make sure that you drop everything else to be there.

These fairs offering jobs abroad may appear to have all the ambience and  accessories of a fair where you can entertain yourself, but they are certainly not so. Don’t look at them as another opportunity for having fun like at a sports event, or a holiday outing, or meeting friends and other job seekers like yourself. You need to understand that these occasions are serious opportunities for starting your job abroad, for your exposure and development. Therefore, you must treat such job fair with respect, almost at par with your first job interview. Treat such fairs as your God given chance to see what’s happening in the overseas job market, and obtain information about potential employers who sell themselves to attract good candidates with the best potential and offer important insights into their organizations. So far, your job application is just a name on paper but these job fairs enable employers or employment agencies to see and ‘humanize‘ you. Therefore you must exploit these chances to polish and improve your presentation skills according to the reactions of future employers.

Now that you know what the real reasons for your attending job fairs are, keep in mind some vital aspects of your participation so that you can get the maximum benefits.

Have a clear objective. Don’t just float into and out of career fairs for the heck of it, without any specific objectives or target? Recruiters put up stands offering careers, seeking to know your specific skills. Present your credentials in an attitude reflecting your confidence to deliver within your area of competence.
Research the participating agencies/employers. Knowing who is coming to hire you will prepare you on how to discover their specific corporate profiles, nature of jobs offered and the desired skills being sought. Study company websites, their missions, values, products and/or services, locations, reputation, culture and history, clients and competitors, and the number of employees to understand the employer and match your profiles against their expectations.
Prepare a list of questions for the participating agencies/employers. As you would at an interview, be ready to ask pertinent questions that you would want answered before joining any organizations or placing your resume with an employment agency. Remember that the fair is a far better venue to get your answers easily compared to an actual interview because here the agencies/companies are trying to sell themselves and would be more open and  approachable, not the other way round as at an interview.

Error-proof/update your resume for feedback. Talking to recruiters at fairs, you can obtain vital feedback on your resume so that you can tweak its content accordingly to make it most effective. Use this chance to understand the minds of experts before you actually bid for any jobs.
Don’t make assumptions in choosing employers. Before you ask as many employers about their offers as you can, do not assume who may or may not be looking for your skills. You never know who is looking for what kind of skills and whether you actually match their requirements.
Don’t feel inhibited. Approach employers and agencies at their counters aggressively instead of waiting at the back of a crowd of job seekers asking questions. Push your way to the front and make your presence felt with intelligent questions. Participate proactively to get the recruiters’ attention. This venue is not about getting a job but getting to know the jobs on offer and how you are qualified. Discuss freely with recruiters and take their suggestions seriously.
Look professional. What you are getting is a chance for a mock job interview, so dress as you would for an actual one. Present a conservative professional image with attire that will appeal to all types of employers, wearing nothing that would suggest any casualness. Pay attention to color, footwear and accessories as suggested in an earlier article called “What To Wear To an Interview”.
Portray positive body language. Impress recruiters with correct posture, firm handshake, eye contact and courtesy. Radiate dedication, conscientiousness and total focus at all times.
Follow-up. Ensure that you thank the recruiters you meet promptly while their memory is fresh. Help them later recall meeting with you at the job fair by referring to some specific points that you should raise for the purpose of this recall. In other words, raise some noteworthy points in your discussion which they would later remember you and recall meeting you.

A lot is at stake for the agencies/companies participating in job fairs, and a lot of time, money and effort is spent to find suitable candidates to fill their vacancies. Therefore look at jobs fairs as a platform where you can ensure becoming a candidate to be called for an interview later.

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