Job Fairs: How To Make Them Work For You

Plan for Success

Marketing 101: Identify your target audience and educate them on the value of your product – you. Job fairs are for exactly that purpose - employers can reach the highest volume of candidates at fairs and students can learn about a large number of opportunities in one distinct setting. However, the value of a job fair is relative to the amount of effort you put into preparing for it and “working it.”

If you have never been to a job fair, think of a large open space where recruiters stand at tables with displays and information about their company and job opportunities. Often there are long lines for the most popular organizations, so manage your time wisely and be prepared to have only brief interactions. Be sure to maintain eye contact, have a strong handshake and an engaging introduction about yourself. Visit one or two companies that are lower on your wish list first to get the hang of it, and then wait in the longer lines early enough to ensure you have time to talk to the popular recruiters. Plan to come early and stay late; some companies will leave before the event is over, so don’t just attend the last 30 minutes of the fair. Expect the venue to be stuffy and loud and filled with nervous, yet well dressed job seekers. Business suits are expected.

On this page:

Why Recruiters Attend Fairs

Generally, recruiters attend fairs to quickly screen potential candidates, but also to attract and educate you. This venue allows for superficial contact with a high volume of candidates and requires the recruiter to both sell his or her company and make fast judgments based on first impressions only. Recruiters use this first impression to decide if they will contact a candidate in the future for either on-campus interviewing, on-site interviewing, or to forward on to other professionals in their company. Companies with few openings may still attend fairs to generate name recognition and to develop a résumé bank from which to pull when future growth occurs. Students have been contacted months after a fair from companies who met them only briefly.