Career Fairs: How They Work & 5 Tips for Making the Most of Them

Career fairs are a great way to network and find jobs. In the article below, you'll learn how career fairs work along with 5 career fair tips for making the most of them!

Due to various market and economic conditions, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a job for many people.

Luckily, there are career fairs.

Career fairs are convenient, one-stop events where you can end up finding your dream job, internship or apprenticeship

But when you’re competing with hundreds of other people for the attention of only a few job recruiters, you’re going to need a plan in order to make a strong first impression. As the old saying goes, “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Career fairs give you the opportunity to get face time with influential people who work in various fields and businesses and show more than just your resume. You need to use this time to show that you’re someone who can be a team player, fast thinker, and effective communicator. 

Ready to learn more? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!

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What Is a Career Fair?

A career fair is an organized event that gives employers and job-seekers the opportunity to meet one another. At a job fair, you can establish a professional relationship with recruiters and go over possible internship and career opportunities. 

Depending on the kind of job fair you attend, you can meet professionals from a wide variety of fields, or it could just be employers from only a handful of related industries. Many high schools and colleges hold yearly or biannual career fairs. 

It’s important to remember that employers are going to these job fairs in order to find qualified candidates and meet up and coming professionals. With that said, you shouldn’t be disappointed if you leave the fair without a job lined up. When you go to a job fair, you want to expand your career search network and learn more about different fields. 

Many times, if it’s an event held at a college, many of the employers will be alumni of that school.

Related Read: Career Glossary: 40+ Job Terms, HR Vocab & Employment Words to Know

5 Career Fair Tips for Success

Now that you have a good understanding of what a career fair entails, let’s go over some job fair tips to make the most of the experience:

1. Dress for the Job You Want

You want to imagine that a career fair is like an initial interview for your dream job. Just like with any job interview, the way that you dress is going to speak greatly about how you present yourself professionally.

At a job fair, first impressions are crucial. And before you even say a word, recruiters are going to be looking at how you’re dressed. 

The clothes you wear should be simple, conservative, and appropriate. Men should wear a suit that would be appropriate for a day at the office along with a nice pair of slacks. Women should consider wearing a dress or skirt with a jacket. 

It’s best to keep makeup, fragrances, and accessories to a minimum. Less is more when it comes to job fairs. You really want the recruiters to remember your personality more than your outfit. 

Related Read: 25 Best Interview Tips: Expert Advice for Acing Interviews & Landing Jobs

2. Do the Research

You wouldn’t go into a job interview without first researching the company. The same holds true for job fairs.

You want to know who will be attending the event before you go. This will allow you to prioritize and then make the most of your time. Not only will this help you to use your time effectively but it will also allow you to better connect with the recruiters from those companies. 

Related Read: What to Bring to an Interview? 10+ Things to Take for Your Big Meeting

3. Have an Elevator Pitch

In order to make a strong first impression, you should have a one-minute elevator pitch to introduce yourself. Let the employer know your name, your school major, and your career aspirations. Close the pitch by letting them know how all of those aspects could fit together if you worked for this company. 

Practice the pitch a few times in the mirror first. You don’t want it to sound too rehearsed but you also don’t want to struggle to remember it when you’re on the spot. For more, read our guide on how to make an elevator pitch.

Related Read: How to Prepare for an Interview: 10 Ways to Get Ready for Your Big Day

4. Be Aware of Your Body Language

If you’re someone who’s naturally introverted and shy around strangers, there’s a good chance that it’s going to show in your body language. Job recruiters are going to be more interested in people who appear comfortable and confident. In order to this, you want to maintain eye contact, have a firm handshake, and have a welcoming smile. 

Remember to shake the employer’s hand both before and after you speak to them. Maintain consistent eye contact and don’t let your mind wander. It will likely show on your face. 

A good idea is to wipe your hands on a towel before going up to a recruiter so you can minimize the amount of sweat on them. 

Related Read: 10+ Job Search Tips & Tricks to Up Your Chances of Landing an Interview

5. Ask the Right Kind of Questions

When you ask thoughtful questions, you’ll show that you’ve put thought into working for this company and you’re genuinely interested in learning more. Some questions to ask at a career fair could be about what a typical day for the position you’re considering would look like and “what is the company culture like?”

Don’t ask questions that could be easily found on their website.

Related Read: 13 Questions to Ask at College Fairs

The Importance of Knowing All About Career Fairs

Career fairs are excellent places for students and young job seekers to learn more about companies and positions that they’re interested in. By following the tips above, you won’t just expand your professional network but you could possibly walk away with a few upcoming interviews in your pocket too. 

As you leave the job fair, make sure to write down any crucial information you gathered. This includes the names of the people you met and the companies and positions that seemed the most interesting to you. 

Well, that’s all for now on what to know when going to career fairs, and we hope it helps you at your next job fair event! Have any questions, feedback, or other career fair tips to add to our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

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Christian Eilers
Written By Christian Eilers
is a writer and expert on the topics of education, entrepreneurship, career advice, travel, and culture. On the Goodwall Blog, he covers topics including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career development, climate action, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Kyiv, Ukraine after living in Warsaw, Poland for the past 4 years. At his desk, you're sure to find Pickwick, his Devon Rex cat, either attacking his fingers as he types or the monitor as the mouse pointer moves around.

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