How to Get the Most From Job Fairs

Last Updated Apr 1, 2009 7:28 AM EDT

  • The Find: Four tips on how you can get the most out of an afternoon spent in an overcrowded room stuffed with tired recruiters and anxious fellow job seekers.
  • The Source: A post on the HR World blog.
The Takeaway: Attending a job fair may be no one's idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon, but with so many people out of work plenty of job seekers will take any opportunity available to hand out resumes and connect with potential employers â€" these mix and mingle career events are no longer just for eager recent grads. So how do you minimize the pain and maximize the payoff of milling with hundreds of strangers at an overcrowded job fair? The HR World blog offers four suggestions:
  • Pre-register online. Visit the associated Virtual Job Fair and research company opportunities by searching available positions and completing skills interviews. If any openings look like a good fit, go ahead and apply to get a leg up on other attendees. With this information in hand, you can target employers and have a pitch customized for each opportunity.
  • Arrive early. By beating the crowd, your odds grow of speaking with recruiters who are fresh and more willing to spend time with you.
  • Develop your "elevator pitch," a 30 to 45 second statement summarizing your background and career goals. The pitch should be tailored to include skills that are relevant to the specific needs of each company.
  • After each recruiter meeting, take notes summarizing your conversation. Include suggestions or next steps the recruiter recommends. Try to get a business card or an email address from every recruiter you meet so you can follow up effectively.
HR World also spoke with Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com who recommends choosing which fairs you attend wisely: "Fairs that are targeted to a specific industry, function or company tend to attract smaller, more focused companies and provide the best experience."

The Question: Any other tips for coping with the anxiety and hopelessness that job fairs can generate?

(Image of job fair by yngrich, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.