It’s the time of year which signals great change for almost all of us. Kids are starting a new grade in school, summer is nearly over and fall is about to begin, pumpkin spice is back, and Christmas decorations have begun appearing beside the Hallowe’en decorations in retail spaces. It’s also a time of career change (when isn’t really?), and there are a few job fairs in the region in the next few weeks.

Tatooine Job Fair

I know that a job fair can seem pretty intimidating: a sort of cattle call for local employers. Dozens of employers and hundreds of jobseekers can stress a body out. However, there are some ways you can get the most out of a job fair experience.

Plan ahead.

Most of the time, you’ll be able to find out what employers will be participating at the job fair. You can also usually figure out what types of positions they’re seeking to fill. Determine your goals, and make a list of priority employers, and make sure you hit those. If you know what they’re hiring for, you can tailor a resume for that position. You should also be prepared for employers you hadn’t considered. Also, bring enough resumes (more than you think you need, probably). A snack wouldn’t hurt, either.

Dress the part.

A job fair isn’t really a series of job interviews, but it sort of is. You want to make a good impression. Polish your shoes, wear a jacket, iron your shirt. As the old ads used to say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

Practice your pitch

You’ve got to sell yourself, so you need a sales pitch. Nothing smarmy or gross. Just say who you are, what you’re looking for, and a Coles Notes version of your experience. Keep it short and feel free to let your personality shine through.

Arrive early.

Remember when I said there would be hundreds of jobseekers? If you can, you want to be among the first to meet the employers. It stressful and tiring for them, too. They’re going to be more receptive earlier in the event. This also gives you a chance to network a bit. Al most all of the people waiting to get into a job fair are looking for work—you already have something in common! They might have leads or connections that aren’t a good fit for them, so they might share. You should do the same.

Collect business cards.

And follow up! That’s what they are for. Remind the recruiters who you are; they will have seen lots of candidates. If you call or email and remind them, you’re miles ahead of someone who simply dropped off a resume. The cards will also help you remember who you talked to.

Use your manners.

You should always be polite, but when you’re looking for work? It’s extra important.

Job fairs can be crazy. But you can take steps to prepare for them and get the most out of them. If you need more help or tips, come see us at WIL. We’d be more than happy to help.