Job fairs are an excellent way to meet and network with a captive audience of employers. Maximize each contact by being prepared before you get there.
Get the invite list. Most job fair organizers will publish a list of participants prior to the event. If you do not see a list on their website, call and ask for one.
Plan ahead. If you are able to obtain the list, identify the companies that you want to target. Research the companies so that you will be well-prepared when you meet them. In addition, create 2-3 personalized questions for each representative, to show them that you did your homework. Arming yourself with this knowledge will help set you apart from other job seekers, and make you memorable.
Write a key-note speech. Develop a two-minute speech that highlights your experience, qualifications, and accomplishments. Your speech should be concise, upbeat, and interesting. You have very little time with the company's representative; Make the most of it with a powerful introduction. Follow your speech with the questions you have prepared.
Be prepared. Figure out how many resumes you think you need, and double that number. There may be unannounced companies at the job fair, or you may want to hand out more than one resume to your target companies.
Dress to impress. This is the time to break out your interview suit and look your best.
Arrive early. Job fairs are crowded, and many times you will encounter a line. Being the first one in the building says a lot about your character and initiative.
Make your rounds. Visit each of your targeted companies first, and then use your remaining time to visit other companies, and network with your fellow job-seekers.
Collect business cards. Make sure to get a business card from each company representative that you meet.
Do not be greedy. Grabbing a grateful of the company's giveaways is just plain tacky. Take one freebee at the most.
Bring a thoughtful gift. Job fairs make for a long, exhausting day for employers. Many times they are alone, and do not have a chance to leave their table. Take mini bottles of water, hand sanitizers, packs of gum or mints, or even a candy bar to give to employers.
Even better, if you have available funds, consider ordering your own mini give-aways, engraved with your name, credentials, and the job you are seeking. A plastic sports bottle with your name and information engrave on it is well worth the investment.
Send a post-event thank you note. Remind each company why you are the best person for the job. Include your contact information, and thank them for their time. Make sure to send a note to the organizer to thank them for putting on the event.