Job fairs or career fairs continue to be a popular way to find employment. In fact, employers will sometimes spend top dollar to get a table at a job fair and they typically send their best staff or recruiters. This shows that they are committed to finding new talent! Serious job seekers should jump on any opportunity to attend a job fair even if it’s just to network and see what types of jobs are out there.

There are a lot of things that can make or break your success at a job fair, so we compiled a list of the top 10 things NOT to do so you can focus on WOWing those recruiters to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Don’t go without researching the employers first

Find out which employers will be there and research them online. Get a feel for their company and available positions so you know which ones to prioritize at the job fair. Map out a list of your top employers to visit that day.

  1. Don’t forget to bring resumes, notepad, pen, references, and portfolio (if applicable)

Bring more resumes than you think you’ll need in case you meet up with other people you want to network with. You’ll also need a notepad and pen to write down contacts, and don’t forget to have a place to keep all of the business cards you collect.

  1. Don’t show up late

Job fairs can last for a couple of hours, or they might be an all-day event. Whatever the case, if you show up too late you may find the recruiters are tired or that they have already found potential candidates and aren’t terribly interested in talking to more. It also shows that you didn’t make the job fair a priority, even if you had great reasons for being late.

  1. Don’t dress down

No matter what type of job you’re looking for, you need to be dressed nicely in clean, unwrinkled clothes that show you are well-presented and professional. You may even be asked to do an “on-the-spot” interview! Don’t forget to take into consideration that the room may get warm with lots of people milling around, and that you might be standing for several hours, so it’s also important to be comfortable.

  1. Don’t look frazzled

If you burst through the door trying to juggle your hats, mitts, winter coat, your purse, your briefcase/folders, your coffee cup and so on, you’ll look unorganized and frazzled. Take a few minutes at the front door to gather yourself up, organize your things, hang up your coat, check that there’s no food in your teeth, and then go tackle that room with confidence.

  1. Don’t overlook your ’30-second elevator speech’ or career pitch

Have a brief introduction memorized that tells recruiters who you are, what you do and what you are looking for in a concise, friendly way. Time is limited at a job fair, and there may be crowds of people at certain tables, so your quick pitch can make a big impact in a short time.

  1. Don’t forget to be patient, friendly, and professional

Keep in mind that you and your body language are being scrutinized by potential employers, so even if you’re tired of waiting in line or you aren’t getting the results you had hoped for, keep that chin up and continue to look pleasant and professional.

  1. Don’t be too chatty

While it’s nice to have a few ice breakers or to talk about the weather, a job fair is time to get down to business. Don’t take up too much of a recruiter’s time or ask too many questions. Keep conversations focused on the job, on your skills and on next steps.

  1. Don’t be shy

Introduce yourself and get that resume of yours into their hands, don’t just plunk it on the table and walk away. Talk up your strengths, ask good questions, and leave with a friendly smile, handshake and a sincere thank you.

  1. Don’t give up

If an employer tells you they have filled their positions or that they aren’t hiring in your field of expertise right now, it doesn’t mean you should cross them off your list. Keep plugging away, especially if it’s a company or industry you’re passionate about! Ask if you can come in for an information interview, or if you can follow up with them in a few weeks. You now have a clever opening for your next contact with them, such as “It was so nice to meet you at the Alliston job fair last month…”.

Are you ready for your next job fair or career fair? If you’d like to learn more, be sure to talk to us at FOCUS Employment Services. We offer a wide range of free supports and resources for job seekers, and you can even print and copy your resume here at our Alliston or Angus locations. We want to be a part of your job search success, so whatever your job search needs are, don’t go it alone! We hope you’ll visit us soon and look forward to helping you in any way possible.