How to successfully work a job fair |

How to successfully work a job fair

by Lindsey Romain
CTW Features

Job fairs are a common event at colleges and universities, promoted as an important job-landing platform. But they’re something jobseekers – especially recent graduates – may find daunting. Is it akin to a typical job interview? What do I bring? How do I behave?

It’s easy to feel lost in a sea of other potential hires, but sticking to a few basic guidelines can provide optimal success in such an overwhelming atmosphere.

Be prepared

There’s nothing worse than showing up to an interview unprepared, and the same can be said of a job fair.

“It helps if candidates do research on the companies before a job fair and sound knowledgeable when they hand over a crisp copy of their resume,” says Rebecca Mazin, cofounder of Recruit Right, an HR consulting firm, and co-author of “The HR Answer Book” (AMACOM Books, 2011).

Bring multiple copies of your resume, personal business cards, pens and a small notebook to jot down the companies that catch your eye. Have a portfolio? Bring it along. This is an opportunity to show prospective bosses everything that you are as a professional.

Come with a clean slate

Make sure to maintain a sense of professionalism before even stepping foot in the fair. Making sure your online persona is respectable is a good start.

“Have a voicemail, e-mail and Facebook presence that are professional and that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to show an employer,” says Jennifer Halperin, an internship coordinator at Columbia College Chicago.

Look your best

“Dress for success” may sound like a hokey term, but it should be a priority at a job fair.

“I would be more likely to hire someone if they were dressed appropriately, and not provocatively,” says Halperin.

Keep skirts long enough, shirts wrinkle-free, and avoid denim jeans.

Don’t be greedy

Job fairs can be a happy hunting ground for free products emblazoned with logos: pens, water bottles, lanyards, posters, even chewing gum. According to a study from the Advertising Specialty Institute, 56 percent of responding human resources professionals say promotional products imprinted with a company’s name convey a positive image when distributed at job fairs.

But being greedy and stocking up on stuff can make you appear overzealous and unprofessional. Take a pen, take a poster, but limit yourself to two items per booth. Wait for a company representative to invite you to help yourself. And remember to say Thank You.