Posted on 06/22/2022
Job fairs are a great way to see what is out there regarding employment. They are also a way for you to be seen by potential employers. However, it can be tricky because you are trying to stand out in a sea of other applicants. That’s not always easy.
At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we like to tell job seekers that the better prepared they are when they go to the job fair, the easier it is to have an impact and find that perfect job. Consider some suggestions to get you ready for your first job fair.
What Is a Job Fair?
Unless you are someone who has actively been job hunting or working through the Goodwill training program, it’s a term that might be unfamiliar to you. A job or career fair is a big event that brings employers, usually some of the top ones in the area, and applicants together.
For job seekers, it’s a chance to make connections that might lead to employment. It also gives you a first-hand look at what the employer offers, such as available positions, schedules, and benefits. In addition, it gives you, the applicant, a chance to ask questions. Finally, it’s a way to see which companies seem like a good fit for you based on your interests, career goals, personal needs, and skills.
Job fairs are essential for employers, too. They get to put faces to the names on applications and may even do interviews on the spot and hire at the job fair.
What Happens at a Job Fair?
During a job fair, you have a chance to meet employers and companies like Goodwill that offer ways for you to improve your skills. At a fair, each employer has a booth or a table.
Representatives talk to people attending the fair to see their interests and tell them about their companies. At Goodwill, we suggest fairgoers try to spend a few minutes at each booth and table that interests them. This is the best way for you to see what jobs are available at each employer and learn more about them.
How To Prepare for a Job Fair
Once you know when and where the job fair is, the next step is to learn about the employers. Goodwill offers training that can give you skills to do the necessary research before the job fair, like our Computer and Soft Skills training course.
Many job fairs like the hiring events offered by Goodwill provide a list of employers attending the fairs. Take your time to get to know each one. Make a list of the companies that interest you the most. Then, when you enter the fair, visit those tables first.
Also, write down some questions you want to ask the recruiters at each table. You want to walk into the conversation with each showing that you know about their company. The better prepared you are, the better information you will get at the fair.
Doing some research before the event also ensures that you have the necessary education and training to land the job. For example, most employers want candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent. If you still need yours, Goodwill offers The Excel Center, an adult high school where you can earn a diploma.
Also, write down the companies you don’t want to work for and pass by those tables. Maybe, the jobs they have don’t interest you. Job fairs are all about networking efficiently. Stopping at an employer’s table that isn’t relevant to your career goals wastes everyone’s time.
Beef Up Your Resume
Most employers also expect a resume. Take your list of the companies you want to interview with most and create a targeted resume that shows the skills you have best suited to employment with that company.
For example, if you want to work in customer service, your resume should reflect skills like effective communication, computer training like Goodwill offers, and working with people to solve problems.
Bring copies of a more general resume, too. You might stumble across an employer who wasn’t on the list or that you missed.
Gather Your Personal Information
Consider what tools you can bring with you to improve your chances of landing a job. Maybe references, especially from trainers like at Goodwill or former employers and teachers. Also, write down your contact information and other personal information like your social security number and driver’s license or state ID.
Make sure to bring a timeline you can use to fill out applications. For example, have the dates you graduated and a list of your past employers, and the dates you worked for them. That way, every application will be consistent, and you can fill them out quickly.
Pack a Bag
The last thing you want to do is walk into a job fair with your arms full. Instead, pack a small, easy to manage pack that contains,
- Business cards, if you have them
- Your list of employers
- Your notes
Goodwill recommends you bring a clean shirt, too. You never know what might happen on the way to the job fair or once you get there. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
You will need to sell yourself from the minute you walk into the job fair. That is why you want an elevator pitch that you can use to talk to recruiters.
Write down some things you think make you stand out, and then formulate them into a short monologue. You could have targeted pitches to give your top employers or just one that tells them enough about yourself to grab their interest. It should be short, concise, and informative with relevant information.
Once you have your pitch ready, practice it over and over. You don’t want to sound like the pitch is memorized, but you also want to make sure you present yourself well and cover everything that makes you unique. Stand in front of a mirror and pretend your reflection is a recruiter until you feel comfortable with the pitch.
The more you know about a job fair before you walk in the door, the better your chance of finding meaningful employment that suits your lifestyle and needs. If you need some assistance finding your career path, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona offers no-cost career services. Check out our website to learn more.