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How to Get Hired at a Job Fair

Attending a job fair can be a nerve wracking experience.  You get dressed up and do your best to distinguish yourself from all the other candidates.  If you are more of an introvert, job fairs can be almost painful.  Here are some tips that will help you navigate through this process and maybe even get a job:

Do research.   Many job seekers show up to job fairs unprepared.  However, you are much more likely to get hired at a job fair if you do your homework.  Find out which companies will be attending the job fair and which positions are available.  Take some time to learn about the company and to customize your resume for your target job.  This extra effort will help you stand out from the crowd.      

Dress to impress.  Your appearance matters when you are attending a job fair.  You won't have much time to speak with the employer so they will be basing a lot of their impression on how professional you appear to be.  You don't necessarily want to stand out with the way that you look, but if you are wearing a nice professional, outfit and have taken some time with your hair and make-up, it'll improve your confidence.

Rehearse your professional introduction.  With all of that competition, you probably have about one minute to make an impression on the recruiter.  This means that you have to get to the point quickly.  Have your professional introduction ready so that you can quickly communicate who you are and what you have to offer.  Practice it until you can deliver it smoothly with a smile while maintaining eye contact with the employer. 

Make connections.  The true value of job fairs are in the connections that you make. Talk to as many people as you can and whenever possible, try to build a rapport with them.  This includes both the recruiters and the attendees at the job fair.  There is a good chance that some of the other attendees will end up working in your field and you never know where you will find your next job opportunity.  Networking is the most effective job search strategy and job fairs allow you to build that network.     

Follow up.  Make sure that you collect the business cards of all the people you meet so that you can follow up with them after the event.  Send them a note saying that you enjoyed meeting them and connect with them on LinkedIn.  Stay in touch by liking and commenting on their posts and sending a message every few months.      

The reality is that you may not actually get a job at the job fair.  However, if you approach it strategically, it will help you expand your network which could open up doors for you in the future. 

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of EveryDayPlus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)