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Here are 5 tips that can help you be well prepared:

Find out what companies are going to be attending prior to the day of the career fair and identify and prioritize the top companies that you definitely want to visit.

Spend a little time researching these companies; the more you know the better. Use the Internet, library, etc. Employers love talking to candidates who are familiar with their company and business. It also makes you look smart. Candidates who are knowledgeable about a company come across as intelligent and interested.

Create and/or refine your resume and bring many, many clean, crisp copies to handout. This is very important!

Create a one-minute introduction that summarizes your skills, goals, experience, etc. Practice this until you are comfortable using this as your opening. The career fair will present many mini interviews and you need to be prepared for this. Anticipate interview questions and practice your responses.

Dress professionally – don’t wear shorts and sandals. Use good judgment in what you wear and project professionalism. Bring a nice folder to carry your resumes and a notepad and pen for taking notes.

Follow these tips below and you are on your way to a more productive career fair.

  • Relax and plan on spending time at the fair. Career fairs are not that frequent so plan your time well. Try to avoid standing in long lines. Go early if possible because the first hour is usually the slowest.
  • Always request business cards or at least get an email address so that you can follow- up and pursue leads.
  • When you get to actually talk to a company representative – remember to shake hands firmly and introduce yourself. This is your chance to make the best first impression.
  • Be mentally prepared with a list of question to keep the conversation flowing. Ask about the company, the industry, what job opportunities exist, etc. Always try to relate your skills and experience to the company or jobs that may be open at the company.
  • Visit companies outside your industry. You will be surprised at how many companies hire in all types of professions (ie. hospitals, banks, etc.)
  • Visit your lower priority companies first. This way you can practice and fine tune your approach. When you are ready, then proceed to the top priority employers on your list.
  • Network! Talk to both employers and other job candidates. If you are standing in line, don’t be shy talk to the people in line. More jobs are filled by networking than any other means.
  • Conduct yourself with a professional manner at all times. Employers are watching at all times. So when you are walking around or waiting in line, always maintain professionalism.
  • Be aware of time. Don’t stand and monopolize an employer’s time. It’s not good for them or for you. Ask specific questions, get to the point and most importantly get the contact information for later follow-up.

It’s important to keep yourself fresh in the mind of the employers. To do this, you must send follow-up or thank you letters within two days. Always refer to the date and location of the job fair. Try and highlight any part of the conversation that stood out to make it easy for them to remember you. Always include a copy of your resume. You might also want to follow-up with a phone call.

Also it’s important to re-group after a career fair and evaluate your experience. Try and understand what you did right and what can be improved upon, as this will help you be more productive at the next fair.

Most importantly, just have a very positive attitude. Always have a smile and thank each person you speak to for his/her time. You have something to sell and employers are there to shop around, and vice versa.

Source: Nathan Newberger www.worktree.com