Maximizing your opportunities at a job fair

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What is a job fair?

  1. It is an event to learn about the job market.
  2. It is a place where you can:
    • meet employers
    • get job leads
    • learn about job requirements
    • talk to experts and representatives of companies
  3. It offers workshops and lectures to learn how to succeed in your career.

Benefits of going to a job fair:

  1. You may get a job.
  2. You learn of job openings.
  3. Expand your network. Make yourself visible to employers.

Tips when attending a job fair:

Prepare

  1. Know what to expect
    • Check the list of companies and the schedule of activities.
    • Register or buy a ticket.
    • Read the job fair’s online event page or poster.
    • Call the organizer if you have questions (example: parking, how to get to the venue).
  2. Set your objectives
    • Know what kind of opportunities you are looking for.
    • Set your goals so that you’ll have direction once you’re there.
    • Decide which booths you will go to. Know which workshops to attend.
    • Maximize your time with a plan. Don’t walk around aimlessly.
  3. Do prior research
  4. Prepare your resume and business card
    • Review your resume (follow Canadian style resume guidelines).
    • Print several copies to bring.
    • Some job fairs accept resumes before the event.
      • Check the job fair webpage. See if they have a section for uploading resumes.
      • This is done to allow companies to shortlist candidates for job openings.
      • You may get a call even before the job fair.
    • Exchange business cards with employers if they don’t accept resumes.
    • Build contacts. You may need them at a later time.
  5. Create a portfolio
    • A portfolio is composed of:
      • a copy of your resume
      • list of references
      • samples of your best work
    • This will help make you a stronger candidate.
  6. Make a plan
    • Come early to talk to specific companies.
      • Avoid crowds.
      • You will be able to ask your questions before they get too busy.
    • Make a list of questions. Make a script to introduce yourself. These will help if you are nervous about your English.
    • Be prepared in case a recruiter interviews you right then and there:
    • Remember to stand out in person in a way that you might not on your resume.
    • Be ready with short stories. Tell them how you practise soft skills at work.

At the job fair

  1. Dress professionally
    • Wear a business attire or business casual.
    • Be neat and polished.
    • Wear comfortable shoes. You will need to do a lot of walking or standing in line.
    • For more tips read: How to dress for a job interview.
  2. Be confident
    • Make eye contact.
    • Have a firm handshake ready.
    • Smile.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. But ask thoughtful questions. Don’t ask details that are already on their brochure or poster. Use your prior research.
    • Always be tactful, polite and pleasant.
      • Don’t interrupt a current conversation. You’ll get your turn.
      • Listen well.
      • If they ask you about your work, be ready with your elevator speech.
      • Present your resume or portfolio when they ask for more details.
  3. Network
    • Network with:
      • employers
      • your fellow jobseekers. They can share job leads and other information even after the job fair.
      • Organizations such as service providers, professional associations, speakers at the seminars, or employment agencies.
    • These are great connections that will help you grow in your field.
  4. Take notes
    • It will be hard to remember everyone you meet at a job fair.
    • Write short notes on the business cards you have collected. Note down what you talked about or how the contact was helpful.
    • You can also use a small notebook to note names, companies, and other details.
    • You will need these details when you send a follow-up email.
  5. Follow-up
    • Send emails to the representatives you have spoken to at the event.
    • Make it short, pleasant and straight to the point.
    • It can be a thank you email to a recruiter.
    • It is an opportunity to state your interest in the company. This will help make you stand out from all the other applicants.

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