Attending a job fair can land you your dream job -- or it can be a nightmare experience. Connecting with many employers in one location gives you the opportunity to gather information, learn about other industries and network with people in your field. The key to success at a job fair -- that is, landing at least one interview -- is preparation. Arriving at least 30 minutes early is a good start.
Avoid Long Lines
Arriving at least 30 minutes early gets you closer to the front of a potentially long line of people waiting for the job fair doors to open. Be prepared to wait in line for fifteen minutes to half an hour. When the doors open, you'll be one of the first to reach employers who generally have the longest lineups.
Put Yourself at Ease
Before attending the job fair, prepare your one-minute commercial explaining who you are, your qualifications, special skills and what makes you stand out from other applicants. When you arrive at least 30 minutes early, this gives you time to practice your one-minute promo and ensure that you will shine when it's time to give it. Rushing in late to a job fair will have the opposite effect. You want to make a positive first impression with employers; be remembered for your confidence and enthusiasm, not your bumbling nerves.
Survey and Prioritize Employer Booths
Days before the job fair, check out the sponsoring website to see which employers will be attending. As you arrive at the job fair, scan the program, noting the layout of the hall and the location of the booths you want to visit. Arriving 30 minutes early gives you time to plan the best route to cover the floor, rather than spending precious time idly roaming or running around from one end to the other. You've only got a few hours to meet as many employers as you can, so make a plan and stick to it.
The Recruiter Perspective
Entering a job fair when it opens means you'll find fresh and alert recruiters. By arriving at least 30 minutes early, you can be sure that employers will have plenty of materials to distribute. As the day progresses, recruiters start to get sluggish and might not be all that enthusiastic about your one-minute pitch. By the end of the day, recruiters might not have a voice left to engage in a conversation with you, let alone materials to hand out.
- USAID: Job Fair Toolkit: A Practical Guide and Best Practices for Organizing, Conducting, and Attending Job Fairs
- PHDJobFair.org: Before the Job Fair
- University of Maryland: Career Fair Preparation
- University of North Florida: Job Fairs
- Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals: Job Fair Boot Camp
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images