Quick Tips: Attending a Job Fair

April 15, 2009
Job Fairs are becoming an increasingly common way to get employers and a lot of job seekers together quickly under one roof.  They're becoming so popular that hundreds and even thousands of workers show up for only a limited number of slots.  If you're looking for work, how can you make yourself stand out from the pack? 
1.  Job Fairs are relatively new to Oklahoma.  What should we do to prepare?
Make LOTS of Resumes.  Better job fairs will either bring in several different employers or be hosted by one employer with many departments.  Either way, you want to make sure you have enough written material available to distribute to potential bosses -- whether different companies or different departments within the same firm.  You're taking a shotgun approach, but that's part of the way job fairs are generally designed to work.  If you don't have a resume`, you may be out of the game early, or find yourself wasting time deciding which specific opportunity is best for you so that you can budget your resumes.  Another simple thought:  Bring a pen.  Some employers might have you fill out an application or contact card on site.  There's nothing that makes you look less prepared than not having a pen handy.

Besides those tips, if at all possible, research the companies that will appear at the event before you show up.  That can save you a lot of effort and your potential employers a lot of time.  Even if you're desperate for work, you can easily and quickly learn that a job just won't be a good fit, and then concentrate on opportunities that are a better match.

Another important issue:  Dress for the job you want.  Besides the psychological game of giving the employer a snapshot of what you'd look like at the job, you look prepared and appropriate.  If you're looking for work as a mechanic, showing up in a suit makes you look out of place and maybe like you're expecting more than the position you've applied for.  Showing up in bedroom slippers won't make the guy responsible for hiring accountants expect you to fit into the office.  
2.  Are the types of employers who attend a job fair limited to one type of business?  Are there job fairs for the medical profession as opposed to manufacturing jobs?
It depends on the job fair.  Most of them will set up a website to explain what businesses will be at the fair and what positions they need to fill.  You can work from there.  Most of those websites will also have descriptions of the companies and the basics concerning the job, but some will list details like hourly rates or what shifts need workers.  Those can all be important tools when deciding to attend.  Also, don't be discouraged if the fair is being hosted by only one employer.  For example, a university might need to bring in every position from groundskeeping through professors, and generally participate or host a massive hiring project only when they have a large (and diverse) number of jobs available.  The same can be said of many large institutions.
3.  Is it likely to walk out of a job fair with a position and start date?  How often do people get hired at the fair?
That depends on the specific employers involved and their needs, but generally the job fair is the first step in gaining employment.  Depending on a lot of factors -- including whatever sort of background check the employer may need to do to hire a new employee -- you might have a process to go through before you can start work.