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GUIDE TO CAREER FAIRS AND JOB EXPOS


WHAT IS A CAREER FAIR / JOB EXPO?

It's a gathering of employers, career advisors, educators, recruiters and others involved in the employment industry, at one large venue where job seekers and those seeking career assistance can drop by during opening hours. There may or may not be an entrance fee.

The ‘Exhibitors' have booths or stands where they display information on their particular service and where representatives are available to meet, talk to and answer questions. A Career Fair or Job Expo can help people to gather information on potential employers, recruitment consultants, career advisors and job opportunities. It's also an opportunity for professional networking which is an essential part of job search.

 

TYPES OF CAREER FAIRS AND JOB EXPO'S


College / University Campus Fairs

These fairs are a great opportunity to become familiar with EXPO'S and are very popular with college and university students. Large campuses will often have several Career Fairs or Job Expos with each one focused on a specific school or discipline. Many potential employers attend the job fair with a view to attracting graduates to their organisation or company. Some employers will be represented by recent graduates that now work for the business so they can talk to prospective graduates.


College / University Career Days

In addition to Campus Fairs, there are Career Fairs where employers are not directly recruiting but they come along to introduce themselves for later on campus interviews. For the graduate, it's an opportunity to learn more about the organisations and what they have to offer.


Commercial Professional Job Fairs


These Job Fairs cater to a wide range of professional occupations and job seekers will compete on the basis of practical experience. The job seeker needs to use these fairs to gather information and follow up after making the resume available.


Speciality Job Fairs

These job fairs are geared to a particular industry such as engineering or IT. For the job seeker in these fields this is an excellent resource for identifying potential employers. However you will be competing possibly with hundreds of other suitable candidates so use this opportunity to gather information for later use.

 

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A CAREER FAIR / JOB EXPO?

  1. Obtain a list of those companies, organisations, advisors that will be exhibiting at the event and carry out some research on the company or the service that is available. The Exhibitors are often showcased on the event website or advertised in print media. Research the exhibitor websites to find out more information about who will be of most use to you and so that you can talk about their business or service with confidence.
  2. If available, get a map of the fair before the event so you can identify those exhibitors you want to target first. Or pick up the map at the entrance and take a few moments to work out who you want to see and in what order.
  3. Prepare questions to ask potential employers. Focus on career opportunities, the organisation and any specific vacancies. Do not ask, ‘What do you do?' or ‘Do you have any jobs?'
  4. Prepare a marketable Resume or Curriculum Vitae and take several copies with you to the Expo. Place the information you want to take to the EXPO in a portfolio or professional satchel.
  5. Be ready to answer interview type questions so hone up on your interview skills.
  6. Have a business card professionally designed and printed with your personal contact details on one side and a list of key competencies or skills on the reverse.
  7. Dress appropriately and treat each point of contact at the Expo as the potential first step in an interview. First impressions count! Smart casual attire is appropriate with shoes that are professional but also comfortable when standing and walking for long periods of time.
  8. Prepare a brief 30 second introduction about yourself to use when you approach a potential employer or recruiter.

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO AT THE CAREER FAIR?

Arrive early to get ahead of the queues. Larger companies tend to be most popular and have the longest queues. Refer to your plan and set about carrying it out. Do not spend time with recruiters or potential employers who do not interest you.

Gather information and materials from each exhibitor's booth. Speak to one of the representatives at the booths that hold most interest for you. Greet the person with a handshake, use positive body language, maintain eye contact and be enthusiastic. Ask for their business card and give them your card. Don't approach booths with a large group of friends - engage in discussion on your own.

If there are name tags made available, wear one!

Ensure that conversations with exhibitors are two sided with both parties asking questions and giving answers. Do not ask about salary or benefits. Do not appear to lack goals or direction.

When you are in line, talk to other job seekers and swap ideas.

Be prepared to answer recruiter questions about your skills and strengths, the kind of job you are looking for, what interests you about a particular organisation. Know and promote your Unique Selling Points (USP's). That is, those questions that set you apart from your competition. Be prepared to ask well considered questions.

Just know that recruiters at a Career Expo or Job Fair are often not the people who would take responsibility for hiring you. Human Resource (HR) recruiters are those who screen out applicants so that Line Managers can spend their time with those most suitable to fill the vacancy. HR Recruiters therefore want to be reassured that you will be right for the job before they recommend that you meet the decision maker. If the HR Recruiter stands at the front of the booth, they are likely to be more welcoming and approachable than those who sit at the back (possibly with a checklist). Those who smile will be interested in engaging with you in conversation - those who do not smile are likely to be more structured and analytical.

Show your knowledge and enthusiasm not just for the job but for the organization. A typical question you are likely to be asked is, ‘Why do you want to work for...?'

Take a note pad and pens. Make notes as you go along and that you can refer to after the EXPO to assess your interest against a range of possibilities.

If relevant, takes samples of your work or a professional portfolio. Also take copies of academic transcripts and references.
Ask what the next step in the process should be as those people who represent businesses at EXPOS are often not the decision maker. You should ask for the name of the person you need to be talking to next.

If the recruiter wants you to apply online, rather than handing over a copy of your resume then and there, find out more about what the recruitment process actually involves.

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER THE EXPO?

Take a note of what you gained from the EXPO, what you learned and what you would do differently if going to another EXPO in the future.

Record employer and job opportunity information either on the back of a business card given to you or in a separate file.

Follow up any meetings with a thank you note that refers to the potential opportunities, your skills and experience that matches those opportunities and ask to meet and discuss further. Attach your business card to the note. Where possible avoid e mail thank you messages.

It's unlikely that a job offer will be made at a Career Fair or Job Expo so follow up is essential. If you have been asked to complete an application at the EXPO, make sure that you contact them after the EXPO.

View our list of upcoming Job Fairs and Career Expos