Are you thinking of how to prepare for a great career? You should rather be thinking; how can I prepare for a career fair?
A career fair creates an avenue that brings you closer to many prospective employers, hiring managers and recruiters in an event setting.
The beauty of this event is the connection it brings. It offers you the opportunity of landing your dream job by launching you before a variety of companies in your industry.
Career fair is an event that guarantees your chances of getting employed only if you take it seriously.
Preparing towards a great career fair may result in-person or virtual as career fairs demand a serious level of preparedness in order to take daring steps towards achieving a great career.
Deciding to attend a career or job fair is an important step to consider since it helps you to market yourself to potential recruiters and it doesn’t matter the number of times you are seeking for job openings be it your first or fifth time.
Daunting activities such as mailing resumes, investing too much time searching out job applications and reviewing countless series of online ads should be ignored.
With the opportunities events like career fair brings, it is easy to rapport and spend time learning about hiring managers from numerous companies, while they also learn about you.
This article aims to give you insight on how you can prepare for a career fair and discover great career opportunities afterwards.
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What Is A Career Fair?
A career fair is a recruiting event that aims towards uniting representatives from many organizations with a larger number of job applicants based on the course of the fair.
Career fair is also known as a career expo, since it’s a remarkable event held in larger congregations or avenues such as a conference center or hotels and also lasts for a long time (from hours to several days).
Some are held mostly on weekends and early/late evenings of weekdays.
Potential employees have free access to learn about job openings, put forward applications for any available job role and sometimes granted initial interviews with a potential recruiter, or a human resources staff member at the cubicle stand depending on the company.
Many companies generally utilize this opportunity to hire candidates since the event can accommodate as many qualified pool of candidates as possible.
Some companies may single handedly hold their own career fairs to announce their openings. These fairs are usually held at the company site or any other venue.
The reason why many companies indicate interest in attending this event is to recruit candidates to fill a few key positions or to employ a pool of candidates for more open positions.
Most times employees may have the opportunity to be invited for several interviews depending on the company’s requirements within their premises. Once an employee meets all the recruiters’ requirements, he can be hired right there at the fair.
At any point in your career preparation, a career fair will always be helpful but above all, you must be able to choose wisely.
For example, a new graduate with no experience or one with no plans to switch careers have no reason to attend a job fair filling for executive roles.
It is necessary for graduates to look out for another company with job positions that best suits their career status, especially companies that have an entry or mid-level openings within their field.
The career fair is an event where you will meet people looking out for the same job openings as you.
Instead of being hostile, be friendly and bring up conversation to attract their attention, share stories and exchange business cards despite how competitive the job opening might be.
Be mindful of the people around you as they may turn out to become a part of your extended career network and be of help to you in the future.
Who knows? You never can tell what favor the lucky person that secured the job may show you- might be alerting you when another similar job opening is made available at the company.
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The Importance Of Preparing For A Career Fair
A career or job fair can be rapid, overwhelming and highly engaging. Therefore, you must observe certain critical steps towards ensuring adequate preparation before attending.
You can save yourself a whole lot of energy wandering aimlessly from one cubicle to the other with hopes of seeking a chat with all the company’s representatives by simply drafting a list that grades your high-priority employers to low-priority ones.
This preparation makes you feel totally in charge, appearing calm and confident during an interview.
How To Prepare For A Career Fair
The following are few tips to help you prepare for a career fair:
1. Pre-register for the career fair event
The right step to take when preparing for a career fair is to first and foremost pre-register by submitting your resume and other supporting documents perhaps any attending employers intend to review your information before the fair.
2. Understand what recruiters or employers are looking for
While your motivation for participating in a job fair is to get hired, it’s important to understand what companies are looking for.
Most companies at job fairs are looking to fill entry-level jobs, so if you fall in this category of job seekers, you don’t need to have a resume with a lengthy work history.
Instead of focusing your resume on your work history, emphasize your soft skills.
Most employers at a job fair prefer candidates who share the same values as the company and are a good addition to the company’s culture.
3. Research each prospective employer
Take an in-depth study ahead of specific companies that will take part in the job fair.
You can make a list of the ones you desire to work for and also carry out your findings about them.
Potential employers are interested in your presence at the job fair with at least a basic knowledge of the company and the products or services they offer.
4. Choose the best resume format
Know that there are different resume formats but the best format that highlight your skill sets and education is otherwise the multipurpose functional format.
A functional resume format does not give room for the traditional resume’s chronological order.
Indeed, it must detail your skill in areas such as project planning, problem solving, organization and management.
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5. Prepare appropriate attire
Wear the appropriate outfit on the day of the career fair.
Every company or organization you are applying to have their own general guidelines that dictate the kind of attire to be worn.
It’s always better to appear overdressed than to be underdressed. However, the best is to go for conservative business attire as this will enable you give a good impression before your employer.
6. Plan a follow-up strategy
The key element to landing a job after a career fair is by following up with the company’s representative.
You should send in a thank you email showing your strong interest in the company.
You can also contact the representative the evening of the job fair and leave a voicemail message appreciating the representative for his/her time that day.
How Job Seekers Prepare and Succeed in a Career or Job fair
Below are some success tips on how to prepare for a career fair:
1. Research the companies that are attending
Having a genuine clarification about the attending organizations makes it easy for you as an employee to ask certain specific questions about the company and the job position.
According to the UC Berkeley Career Center, the writer states;
“These impresses [company] representative because it shows a great interest in them”
2. Decide who you want to meet and talk with
Make it a habit of creating a priority list of employers by ranking the high-priority employers from the low-priority employers so you can know who to start a conversation with at the career fair instead of wasting precious time wandering around.
You will be so confident and your success chances will increase. If you can get the layout of the job fair beforehand, then it’s possible to see employers in order of interest.
Once your desired companies are prioritized accordingly, you can begin to visit them in their order of priority.
You will have ample time to share with people from the organizations you like to work for if all goes well.
If there’s not much time left due to long queues, you will at least have advertised yourself to your top few companies.
3. Prepare and print your resumes
Another way to prepare for a successful career fair is to make sure you bring more copies of your printed resume than you needed as some companies may want more than one copy of your resume.
You may still need to bring more versions of each resume provided you have multiple job positions to take on. Don’t forget to ensure your resume is error free and well written.
4. Create and practice your elevator pitch
You should be able to explain who you are, what your skills are and what your career goal is when asked to give a 30 to 60 seconds speech.
In addition, check out exciting tips on creating a solid elevator pitch on a page by Carnegie Mellon University and see this as one true important piece of learning how to prepare for a career fair.
5. Prepare for potential interviews or interview questions
Learn to research the most common interview questions and draft your answers beforehand.
Doing this will help you present yourself professionally and help boost your confidence.
What To Do On The Day Of The Career Fair?
Be sure to arrive as early as possible, dress appropriately for the job fair, and then follow these tips to make the most of your time:
1. Be confident and enthusiastic
Be polite when introducing yourself, give a warm smile with a firm handshake.
The companies are there to happily receive you and most importantly hire you.
Create a good impression about yourself and be ready to deliver your elevator pitch when appropriate.
If you are still a student, buttress more on your academic and extracurricular experiences as well as your career interests
2. Take notes if necessary
You can do this often.
According to UC Berkeley Career Center;
“When you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers. Write down the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later.”
3. Ask the company representative for a business card
In the course of your preparation for a career fair, you will need to have all the information you need to reach out to the company’s representative if necessary and to send a thank-you note for the time they spent with you.
Many candidates have been given jobs because of a simple “Thank you” either you choose to believe it or not.
4. Network, network, network
Hiring managers representing the various companies usually make time available to discuss with other job seekers concerning their companies and the various job openings.
Get their contact information if possible.
Employees can approach any professional organizations at the fair and get relevant information ahead of future networking opportunities.
What About Virtual Career Fairs?
A virtual career fair can still be compared to that of the live version just that it comes with an obvious and not so obvious expectations.
The virtual career fair is somehow similar to being in online discussion gatherings or chat rooms.
Once you log in, you’ll see “rooms” with specific employers in each one.
When you enter a specific room, that employer is notified and then will greet you using a chat function. (This is not via a video connection; it is all typed text.)
You can get busy as never before using clear and professional business language that is positive and enthusiastic.
Use the right grammar by avoiding the use of slangs, emojis, and unprofessional language.
You are reflecting your written communication skills which could be a specific requirement of many jobs and also bringing out a bit of your general personality.
While at the fair, you can contribute in an ongoing conversation with you on the other hand requesting to chat in camera with the company representatives.
If all seems positive, you may be asked to have a video chat using zoom or Skype.
Take this as a virtual job interview-remember to utilize a strong body language by facing directly at the camera just as you would look into your interviewer’s eyes in person.
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What Makes Virtual Job Fairs Unique?
Naturally, virtual career fairs can be a whole different ball game. For that reason, they come with their own set of pros and cons.
1. No travel necessary
One of the obvious benefits of a virtual job fair is that you don’t have to spend time traveling to the venue and then traveling home again.
As a result, you don’t have to worry about being late or arriving frazzled because you were stuck in a traffic jam or driving in bad weather.
And it doesn’t matter if your car is in the shop on the day of the fair.
Virtual job fairs are perfect for anyone who finds it difficult to travel, such as; people with disabilities, those who live in rural areas, and military spouses who want to line up a job near the next base assignment but aren’t there yet.
They’re also perfect if you’re currently employed. It’s easy enough to leave work early or during your lunch time at work, slip out to a quiet spot or close your office door for privacy.
2. Decreased social pressure
If you’re an introvert, virtual job fairs can make this first step in the interview process so much easier.
You get all the benefits of a traditional job fair but without the anxiety of large crowds.
You can strut your stuff in one of the easiest possible scenarios.
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3. Requires some tech-savviness
The only potential setback to attending a virtual job fair would be if you’re really not current on the required technology or you’re not a good typist.
You can most likely overcome the first issue in a few days with some help, but the typing isn’t that easy.
If this is you, consider getting speech-to-text software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Just remember to check the text before you hit send, because the auto-correct feature could cause some embarrassment.
Basically, if you have an internet connection, you can attend any virtual career fair.
Tips For Attending Virtual Career Fairs
Attending a virtual career fair requires the same steps mentioned above for an in-person job fair, but there are a few more preparations and requirements to make the virtual career fair successful.
1. Use modern devices
Your virtual meeting gadgets such as your laptop, desktop and tablet must be in a good state to function properly.
They should be able to handle all software’s used for virtual meetings.
If your tech is outdated, think about purchasing or borrowing something newer to avoid problems during chats or video meetings.
Don’t use your phone unless it’s absolutely necessary. It may not have the same connection strength and quality as the other devices mentioned above, making your messages lag.
Plus, the small, narrow screen can also be awkward during a video chat.
2. Have a strong internet connection
In a situation where you are interviewing from home, check your internet Wi-Fi connections to be sure they will send and receive information quickly and clearly.
They are same rules that apply when attending the in-person interview as well.
3. Understand the tools
Ensure you download the essential software ahead of time and make sure you know how to apply it.
You may not want to waste time trying to figure out when you could be chatting with your next potential employer.
If you are so unsure about how it works, you can call on someone around to help put you through even if it’s for a few days before attending the virtual career fair.
4. Set the scene
Be sure the scene appears professional wherever you are (i.e., not in the living room with a pile of dirty clothes in the background) and should be devoid of too much noise or distractions.
Doing this will make you feel determined to make a great impression eventually a video interview pops up.
5. Dress professionally
Be corporate in your appearance as you would for an in-person interview-from head to toe.
It puts you in a “professional” state of mind and keeps you at alert to go if a video interview happens.
As soon as the virtual career fair is done, follow the same guidelines as you would for any other interview format which are listed below.
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Actions To Take After Any Career Or Job Fair
There are few important things to note as the program ends ranging from the preparatory stage of the career fair to the aftermath of the event.
The tips are:
- Keep in touch with the company’s representatives you shared with as mentioned above
- Send a thank you note as quickly as possible after the fair
- Check your interest and qualifications for the job and be sure to follow up with a phone call
- You can attach another copy of your resume to the note or email
Keep Networking Non-Stop
Make sure you are able to communicate with fellow attendees you talked with to publicize your experience in the job fair and check in their successes.
Inform them and let them know you will always keep them in mind and in case there is any open position they might be interested in and ask them to do the same for you in return.
You can look out for any professional organization in the career fair and join once they are in line with your career goals as expected.
I hope that this article has enlightened you extensively on how you can prepare for a career or job fair?
Carefully understand and follow these guidelines at your next career fair, virtual or in-person interview, and give yourself an excellent chance of landing that next great job in your career path.