First Time Attending Career Fair: How to Get the Most Out of It

A first career fair can turn out to be an unforgettable experience or a complete disaster. Some people attend career fairs with a predetermined purpose in mind and end up getting the most out this opportunity, while others have no idea what to do there and therefore spend their precious time simply wandering around the place and trying to figure out what to do with themselves.

If you want to be one of the first ones, I can help you. Here are some tips that will help you to come to a career fair confident and prepared.

Determine your main goal

Some people attend career fairs because they want to get some tips on their CVs from experienced HRs and recruiters. Some, simply because they need a job. Some job seekers are there because they want to talk to the potential employers or to choose between a number of jobs that interest them the most. All these actions require different preparation: for example, if you come to a career fair just for research, you still should bring your CV since you do not know of what lies ahead. Make sure your CV is sleek and contains all the info about your professional skills and achievements. If you have attended professional conferences or delivered speeches there, you should definitely include this info for your potential employers to see. But remember that less is more and you don’t have to include your cooking school certificates if you’re not applying for a chef. Keep it relevant.

Do some research

There will probably be many companies presented at a career fair, just like there will be plenty of other people eager to get the job. If you don’t want to spend half of your day waiting in lines to talk to the employers that you don’t care about too much, be sure to research all the companies and career opportunities they offer. Most likely, there will be a few that seem really interesting to you: find out where they will be located and focus on talking with their representatives first. If you have to stand in line, you want to make sure it’ll be worth it.

Moreover, researching beforehand will give you all the information necessary to ace a job interview with your dream company’s HRs or at least to ask questions that would be considered interesting and relevant to the company’s field of expertise.

Gather all the papers you might need

Even if you go to a career fair without an intention to apply, still be sure to take your CV with you. Maybe you’ll get an interview opportunity, maybe you’ll find an HR, who will be willing to help – everything can happen and so the more prepared you are, the more opportunities you’ll have.

Don’t only take your CV. Maybe you’ve finished some courses and received a certificate that can prove it. If you’re applying for a creative job, make sure to bring your portfolio to showcase your skills, whether it’ll be on paper or tablet. You should definitely bring your business cards if you have them.

Prepare for the interviews

Maybe you are confident enough to think that you’ll be able to ace any interview on the spot. However, it is still good to be ready for anything that might come up. Start preparing a couple days in advance. You can easily find lists of tricky questions recruiters ask on interviews online.Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It proves that you’re fully engaged in a conversation. But first, make sure that you ask something relevant. Don’t just ask about obvious things, you’ll be one of these people who read tips & tricks online and trying too hard to seem intelligent. However, thorough preparation is more than just that. You need to look professional too, so prepare your most formal outfit to look dressed to the nines.

Acquire the right attitude

Career fairs are important for networking as well as making a positive impression on your potential employers. Even if you don’t intend on getting a job right now and just decided to test the waters, you can do all it takes to be remembered well so that when you graduate and you’ll have good chances to book a job interview with this company.

However, it’s really hard to make a right impression if you feel insecure. You need to look confident and professional, show your interest, be friendly and smile a lot (but not too much), remain formal and discreet at the same time. Yes, this might sound like a tough challenge, but actually, it is quite simple: just don’t worry too much and don’t be shy to talk about your achievements. You don’t have to stress too much over it – after all, you’ll still have plenty of job interviews in the future. So try to relax a little and demonstrate the best version of yourself to the potential employers.

Keep all these tips and mind, use them – and you’ll see for yourself that a career fair can be not a waste of time, but a day full of opportunities. I hope that you will be able to make the most out of this day and, of course, I wish you good luck with that.

Kevin McNamara is content writer and blogger.


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