Navigating the Job Fair

Navigating the Job Fair

Jonathan JenkinsBy Jonathan Jenkins6 Minutes

When you are surrounded by hundreds of other people in an auditorium all vying for the attention of recruiters, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Job fairs can be an oasis of opportunity in the middle of a long job search, but it requires preparation to get the most out of them. There are some basic strategies for your time before, during, and after a job fair that will help you make a great impression.


Preparation is vital for most things job-related but going into a job fair requires a little more work and foresight than some other application methods. You need to plan ahead to determine what items you need, who will be there, and what opportunities you may want to target.

Before doing anything else, make sure the job fair has the opportunities you are looking for. If there aren’t any companies or careers represented that fit your interests, you may want to reconsider taking your time to attend. If there are plenty of companies that represent what you are looking for, do some thorough research into the ones you are interested in. Find out what jobs are currently open, what the company is looking for, and adjust your resume accordingly.

Tailor your resume to those specific companies or positions, especially if there is a job currently available that you qualify for. Make extra copies in case the recruiter wants a couple to take with them. For any other opportunities that might arise, put together a general resume that demonstrates the experience that you know recruiters in your career path will value. Plan to take 20 copies of the general resume to give to anyone who needs them.

Be sure to dress appropriately for the event. The goal is to make the best impression possible, so looking professional and being approachable are paramount to success. However, do consider that you may be on your feet for several hours, so wear comfortable shoes. Take some time to relax beforehand, and mentally prepare for any questions you might be asked.


Once you arrive, check in and get a floor plan for the job fair. Take some time to orient yourself and determine where you need to go. Show enthusiasm and sincerity when talking with company representatives and listen carefully to their responses. Be prepared to dive into your background during your discussion. Conversation is a two-way street, and the recruiters will be asking probing questions to see who would fit best in their organization. Also, prepare some questions of your own and pay attention to their answers to them. Often what someone within a company says about a topic will tell you more about that company than any online PR blurb. Be sure to get a business card from them if they have one; they may be a great point of contact when you are applying.

Before you leave, take a walk through the midst of the fair. See if there are any companies you missed or anything that is tangentially related to what you were looking for. Sometimes the best opportunities can be the ones you least expect to find.


After leaving the job fair, put your new business cards and contacts in a safe place. Within the next 48 hours, reach out to the people you talked to and thank them for their time. Determine the next steps you need to take and follow any directions you are given. Within the week, contact the companies again and follow up on what you need to do to proceed and with any questions you might have. Staying on the minds of recruiters is one of the best ways to get hired, so try to not let too much time lapse before you act.

Getting the most out of a job fair requires time and dedication, but the results can be worth the effort. If you make an impression and add some solid contacts, your path to a job may be much easier. Even if no job offer immediately comes out of your time there, know that it wasn’t a wasted afternoon. Expanding your connections is always helpful, and while they may not have a job for you at the moment, recruiters may consider you for future openings. Job fairs present the opportunity to present yourself in a professional manner. If you do this well, the benefits can change your career and your life.