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employment and education opportunities.

Job Fair Tips

Veterans and Spouse Hiring fair at Nationals Park

Job fairs are one of the best ways to discover new opportunities, meet contacts, distribute your resume, and learn about companies that are hiring in your area. But there’s more to it than leaving with a few new business cards. To get the most out of a job fair, prepare for it like an interview. Here’s what you can do before, during, and after the job fair to make yourself stand out.

Find out what businesses will be there. Do your homework by looking up the companies that will be represented, and do a little background research on them, including the types of jobs they have open and the skills they require. This information can typically be found on the job fair information website or the company’s website. Recruiters will be impressed if you already know about their company—it shows you’re taking the opportunity to meet with them seriously.

Prepare questions. After narrowing down the companies and openings you’re most interested in, think of questions you’d like to ask company representatives at the job fair.

Practice your “elevator pitch.” Prepare a few sentences that will give job fair representatives a clear sense of your background, the types of jobs you’re looking for, and what you can bring to their company. Rehearse it until you can deliver your two-minute speech smoothly, but naturally.

Bring your resume. Create a resume and proofread it several times. Make sure it gives a good overview of your experience and it outlines all of your skills. Always carry more copies than you think you’ll need.

Dress to impress. First impressions are crucial. How you present yourself speaks volumes about how you’re approaching your job search. Though a suit isn’t usually necessary, business casual is typically most appropriate. Skip the jeans and T-shirts and stick to dress pants and a collared shirt for men, and slacks or a skirt with a blouse or a professional dress for women. Make sure your clothing is clean and pressed and you’re well-groomed. Steer clear of revealing clothing, heavy jewelry, and strong perfume or cologne.

Get to know employers. There’s more to making a connection than dropping off your resume. Don’t approach a booth when it’s crowded; instead, wait for a lull so you don’t feel the need to rush through an introduction. Always greet people with a strong handshake and maintain eye contact during your conversation. Spend a few minutes talking with prospective employers so that you make an impression. This is when your research will come in handy—ask your prepared questions and let them know what departments you’re most interested in. A smart strategy is letting them know how your skills match with any present openings.

Learn the application process. While some employees will have applications for you to fill out at the job fair, many use an online application system. Be sure to get the details about how to apply, including the website information. Bring a notebook to jot down details from conversations. Make sure to get the contact information of the representative, so that you can follow up with him or her directly after submitting your online application.

Send thank you notes. Follow up with a thank you note a day or two after the job fair. This shows good manners and that you are serious about employment opportunities.

Stay in touch. During the job fair, ask representatives how they prefer to be contacted. Be sure to follow up using their preferred method to check in about opportunities.