Connecting and networking: Career fair tips

See our list of do's and don'ts before you attend your first or next career fair.

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An individual in a plaid shirt shakes hands with someone across a tableGoing to a job fair soon? If you're looking to make the most of it (and maybe land a new job) here are the dos and don’ts to help guide you through what can be a very stressful day. 

Do your homework.

After you find a local job fair, take the time to learn and research what companies, organizations, and recruiters will be in attendance. Google the businesses that spark your interest and see if they’re hiring. Make a list of the ones that might be a good fit for you. If the list looks promising, pre-register for the event. Be sure to keep your notes, so you’ll be able to spark conversations when you show up.

Don’t ever go without any preparation. You’ll probably feel lost, and recruiters might not consider you a serious candidate.

Dress for success

What you wear can make or break your first impression. Specifically, business casual is usually your best bet for a job fair. Think nice slacks or a skirt and a collared shirt or blouse. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Avoid revealing clothing and over-the-top accessories. That might make you stand out, but not a good way.

If you're worried about being too casual, err on the side of being too business-like. One easy trick: Look at the flyer or website to see if there are any photos of job candidates. Model your dress after them or just bring a change of outfit to leave in your car.

Bring your resume

Actually, resumes… lots of them! You never know. You might only need a couple, but if you run out, a recruiter might take it as a sign of you being unprepared. (For tips on creating an “A+” resume, check out our article.)

You might think you know every employer you want to talk to, but you never know. You might find yourself surprised. Trust us, there's nothing more awkward than connecting with a recruiter about a great opportunity and having to admit you don't have a resume to give them.

Get the lay of the land

As soon as you get there, plan your route. Confirm that the companies you’re interested in are still there, and see if any new companies were added last minute. It’s probably a safe bet to meet with your top companies first, then visit others last. You don't want to feel rushed or find out that a recruiter decided to pack it up early.  Either way, having a plan makes it less stressful and more productive.

Once you've met with the companies you want to meet with, don't leave right away. Explore the rest of the fair and chat with other employers (after all, you brought those extra resumes).

Listen up!

In a busy, fast-paced environment, it’s easy to get distracted. That’s fine to an extent, but remember to crank up your focus when you need it. The most important time being your conversations with potential employers, especially when you ask them questions. You should listen carefully and determine if they're a good fit for you.

After each conversation, take a minute to write down notes about what the two of you discussed. If you're planning to talk to multiple employers, this will help you keep each one straight after you leave the fair.

Follow up.

Make sure you reach out to anyone you connected with at the job fair. Send them an email or a handwritten note, or leave them a voicemail. They expect it. And it helps if you can mention a small detail from your conversation with them. It’d be a great icebreaker for your follow up. For example, “Hello Laurie! This is Luke, the fellow Boston Bruins fan that you met at the job fair on Thursday.”

Sometimes, your job search can start and end at a single career fair. Now don’t expect that, but it could certainly happen. Either way, attending a job fair equipped with these dos and don’ts ensures you’re on the right track to landing a great new job.

If you're looking for a temporary job in the meantime, check out our current openings near you

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