How to Prepare for a Job Fair

February 14, 2024

A job fair is an event in which employers share information with job seekers, like you. Job fairs offer excellent opportunities for high school and college students to connect with employers to ask questions and learn what types of jobs employers are hiring for.

Lonnie Martinez, Employment Specialist with the Oregon Employment Department at WorkSource Newport, helps students get ready for job fairs and their first job. “Arrive on time and have a well written and professional appearing résumé,” he says. “Employers may not be interested in hiring someone that has a crumpled résumé in their backpack or brings a bunch of friends with them to inquire about or apply for a job.”

Lonnie also suggests using a professional e-mail address for résumés and applications. These days we can have a personal AND professional email address. Be sure to check your social media presence. Update your security settings in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media you are using. Google your name and see what others will see. You might be surprised! We never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Employers are willing to give you a chance at your first job. A little preparation will go a long way!

Before the event, learn about employers that will attend the event. Look for the employers that match your short-term job or long-term career interests. Employers will ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Take the opportunity to prepare questions in advance.

Prepare a 30-second concise message about your background and career goals. Be ready to communicate your skills and interests. Don’t forget a pen when attending a job fair in the event you get to fill out job applications, provide contact information, or take notes. It demonstrates to employers you are prepared.

When meeting an employer it is important to:

  • Engage with company representatives.
  • Offer a firm handshake.
  • Make eye contact with a smile.
  • Speak clearly and confidently.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Be yourself!

Appropriate attire and good manners are essential! Take the opportunity to speak with several employers. This experience can teach important skills, such as beginning a conversation in a business environment and conducting yourself professionally.

Collect business cards and send thank-you and follow-up letters or emails to the employers you speak with. When you have the name of the Employer Representative, it creates a more sincere follow-up call or thank-you note.

Many job fairs have moved to an online or drive-thru setting because of COVID-19. Virtual hiring events and drive-thru events are just as important as the job fairs you may have attended in the past. These are not casual events. Present yourself in a professional manner.

  • Dress professionally and be prepared for any conversation just as you would during an in-person event.
  • Learn how to have a professional or neutral background for your virtual interviews or for attending meetings.
  • Always check your sound and speaker connections. It’s awkward to attempt to speak and have no one hear you! Attention to detail is still critical.
  • Check your video and adjust its position prior to joining an event.

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