Also known as a job fair or a career expo, a career fair is an important recruitment opportunity for employers, recruiters, and job seekers to connect and discuss potential employment opportunities. It is vital to present a professional appearance and character, so read through our guide on what to do before, at, and after a career fair.
What is a career fair?
A career fair is a recruitment opportunity where employers and recruiters can connect with potential employees, and job seekers can form professional relationships with potential employers. Employers and employees can discuss potential job and/or internship opportunities.
Career fairs are usually organized in large halls with booths and tables set up by each potential employer and recruiter. The recruiter will market their company and tell potential employees about current job opportunities and the job application process. Job seekers can talk to recruiters, gain insightful tips, learn about job openings and career opportunities, and even take part in on-the-spot interviews.
In addition to the networking opportunities, career fairs often also hold talks, seminars, and workshops where the organizer or companies taking part in the fair present on a range of topics. These topics include subjects like preparing for a job interview, writing a CV or resume, and how to apply for a specific job.
Benefits of career fairs:
- Job seekers can attend talks, seminars, and workshops on various subjects, such as how to write a CV or interviewing tips.
- Job seekers can research different companies and industries.
- Employers and job seekers can make use of networking opportunities.
- Employers can increase brand awareness for their company.
- Employers can conduct initial screenings on job seekers.
- Employers can perform job interviews if they find a great candidate.
- Job seekers can build professional relationships and get recruitment tips from experienced recruiters as well as younger employees.
Top 10 Career Fair Organizers:
What to Wear to a Career Fair:
- Dress pants or a skirt — no denim, shorts, baggy pants, short skirts, or pants with rips or holes.
- Polo or golf shirt, blouse, or a casual shirt with a collar — no t-shirts, low-cut tops, wrinkled or old tops.
- Clean, well-cut jacket.
- Professional shoes — no flip-flops or beachwear.
- Suits are appropriate.
- Neutral colors like blue, beige, white, tan, grey, or black are more professional than bright colors. You can use bright colors for accent and accessories, like ties or jewelry.
- Keep jewelry light and classic — avoid large, chunky jewelry or overdressing with jewelry.
- Clean and style your hair and keep it off your face. Facial hair for men should be well-groomed.
- Make-up should be kept minimal with a neutral palate.
- Use a light fragrance and avoid heavy amounts.
- Bring a clean, professional bag or briefcase to carry hand-outs.
Whether you are an employer or job seeker, when dressing for a career fair you should present a professional and confident appearance. While it's not necessary to wear a full suit, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed when attending a career fair.
Be sure to try on your outfit before going to the career fair to check that it fits well.
How to Prepare For a Career Fair:
For job seekers:
- Research the career fair you will be attending. Find all the information you can, including seminars, attending companies, the day's itinerary, the location, etc.
- Pre-register for the career fair, if applicable, and submit your resume and other information for potential recruiters to peruse.
- Research the companies that will be attending and make a list of the ones you want to speak to. Then, research their background, environment, and objectives.
- Compile a list of questions to ask potential recruiters.
- Prepare a short introduction of your skills, knowledge, and abilities.
- Prepare for potential interview questions.
- Update your resume to highlight your education, skills, and experience relevant to your list of top companies to approach. If you are interested in different career options, prepare various targeted resumes.
- If you are interested in a specific company, start an online application for them so that you have an idea of their application process to ask and answer questions.
- Advertise your presence at the career fair before the event.
- Plan a colorful booth design and practice setting it up. Ensure that you prepare everything and that it is properly packed, including business cards and name tags.
- Print out promotional materials, including business cards, brochures, pamphlets, or handouts. Also, be sure to have plenty of company literature on hand for your representatives.
- Consider if you will be accepting resumes or not. If you do not accept resumes, you will need to offer potential employees an alternative option, such as directing candidates to online applications.
- Make a list of your open positions and train all your representatives so that they are familiar with the positions. Consider preparing a list of talking points about the various positions for your representatives.
- Plan your trip to ensure you arrive early with plenty of time to set up your booth.
- Consider if you will offer promotional objects or giveaways to entice candidates to your booth. An object that is out of the ordinary and represents your company is a better choice than the ordinary, such as pens, keychains, or lanyards. If you do, you will need to order and pack them.
- Prepare a brief list of interview questions to pre-qualify candidates.
What to Bring to a Career Fair:
For job seekers:
- Multiple copies of your resume.
- Targeted resumes for different career options.
- Business cards, if you have them.
- A notebook, pen, and a folder for business cards, brochures, and other handouts.
- The list of your top companies with applicable research.
- Application preparation materials.
- Your elevator pitch.
- An emergency change of clothing, in case of spills or wardrobe malfunctions.
- Nametags and business cards.
- Promotional material.
- Giveaways, if applicable.
- Application materials, such as forms or laptops connected to your website.
- Lists of talking points and company materials for your representatives.
What to Do At a Career Fair:
For job seekers:
- Arrive as early as possible to make the most out of the day and take some time to go over the map of the fair. This will help you to find the companies you are most interested in.
- When you arrive at the career fair, check-in at the reception desk and get a name tag, if applicable. The name tag goes on your right side so that recruiters will notice when shaking your hand.
- Use the list of top companies you made and visit each company in order of priority. Career fairs can be chaotic and very busy, so use this tip to ensure you visit the companies you most want to speak to first.
- If you have time after visiting your top companies, talk to as many other organizations as possible. You may find a great company match that you hadn't thought of.
- Be proactive when introducing yourself. Smile and offer a handshake.
- Unless you're told otherwise, address the recruiters as Mr. or Ms.
- Be prepared with your elevator pitch after introducing yourself and remember to speak clearly and confidently. Don't speak too fast as you'll then come across as nervous. Also, be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your interest in the company.
- When questioning the recruiters, take notes on important details, such as names, contact numbers, information sessions, future hiring dates, etc. Definitely ask about the application process for those companies that have available job opportunities for people with your skill set.
- Offer recruiters a copy of your resume and your business card when you start your elevator pitch and point to relevant sections on your resume as you talk.
- Always ask before taking materials from a recruiter's table, especially if the brochures or pamphlets are still packed in boxes.
- When wrapping up a conversation, thank the recruiter for their time and ask for a business card.
- Make time to talk to other job seekers to share information and network.
- Arrive early so that you will have plenty of time to set up your booth.
- Keep to a specific timeframe when speaking to candidates so that there won't be long queues at your booth but try to answer all the questions a candidate may have.
- Make notes during candidate interviews to help you to remember all the people you'll be speaking to.
- Gather resumes and contact details and keep them together with your notes.
- Inform candidates about applying online or other steps that will be taken at the end of the career fair (e.g. "while we don't have an opening currently for someone with your skill set, we will contact you as soon as a position comes available").
- Ensure your recruitment team is engaging candidates as much as possible and that your booth is never unmanned.
How to Get the Most Out Of a Career Fair:
For job seekers:
- Remember to dress professionally and bring only what is necessary for the fair. If you are a student and are planning to attend a career fair after classes, stop by your dorm room, apartment, or car first to drop off bulky backpacks and food items.
- If you are attending with friends, approach individual recruiters on your own. Recruiters prefer to speak to potential candidates one-on-one.
- Walk around the outside of the career fair first to plan how and in which order you want to approach your top companies. You will be able to see which companies have long lines and how you can use your time most effectively.
- Chat to job seekers who are waiting in lines to speak to particular companies. This will give you an indication of whether a company would be a good fit for you and if they still have the job opportunities you are looking for.
- Keep your body language in mind, especially if you are shy or introverted. Stand up straight, maintain eye contact, and don't cross your arms in front of your body. Remember to smile and offer a handshake when meeting a recruiter.
- Research the organizers and make sure that the sponsoring organization will attract the right kind of candidates for your company.
- Weigh up the price for participating with what is included in the package and make sure that there is enough media and advertising coverage to make it worth your while.
- Develop a positive working relationship with the fair organizers and make sure your company makes use of every resource for advertising and attracting job seekers.
- Bring enough knowledgable, energetic, and respectful representatives to continuously man your booth and keep wait lines short.
- Make sure you have more than enough business cards and company materials to last for the whole career fair.
- Plan to stay for the whole career fair to ensure maximum exposure to potential candidates.
- Advertize all your job openings and provide easy access to applications, whether on paper or online, to attract as many candidates as possible.
What to Do After a Career Fair:
For job seekers:
After the fair ends, send a follow-up email to recruiters thanking them for their time. Reiterate your interest in their company, even if they don't have a job opportunity for you at the moment. By doing this, you can create an important professional connection and the recruiter will be more likely to remember you when a job opening for someone with your skills does become available.
If you are applying for an available job, follow the recruiter's instructions and submit your application within a few days of the fair. If the company does not have a job opportunity at the moment, you can ask the recruiter if you can go in for an informal interview.
Also, you should reach out to the other job seekers you spoke to at the fair to share your experiences. Offer to let them know if you see a job opportunity that could be a good fit for them and ask them to do the same for you. You should also join any professional organizations that were at the career fair and that are in line with your career goals.
At the end of a career fair, contact qualified candidates as soon as possible to arrange further steps, such as interviews, completing an application, or completing a skills assessment test. You should also follow up with the team that attended the fair to discuss their overall impressions of the fair and the best potential candidates. You can then decide if attending that particular career fair was beneficial for your company and you will be able to improve your recruiting strategy.
What do you do at career fairs?
A career fair provides recruitment opportunities for employers and recruiters to connect with potential employees and job seekers. Employers and employees can discuss potential job and/or internship opportunities.
What does "career fair" mean?
Also known as a job fair or a career expo, a career fair is an important recruitment opportunity for employers, recruiters, and job seekers to connect and discuss potential employment opportunities.
Are National Career Fairs worth it?
National Career Fairs organizes nationwide career fairs to bring together recruiters and job seekers. They have a B- rating from Better Business Bureau but have received a number of customer complaints regarding poor organization, limited recruiter attendance, and last-minute fair cancellations.
How do you impress a recruiter at a career fair?
When attending a career fair, you should dress professionally and be proactive when introducing yourself. Job seekers should maintain strong, confident body language, smile while maintaining eye contact, and offer a handshake when introducing themselves. Job seekers should be polite and professional, addressing the recruiters as Mr. or Ms., and should be prepared with their elevator pitch.
Should I bring resumes to a career fair?
Yes, you should bring multiple copies of your resume to hand to recruiters. If you are interested in different career options, you should bring multiple, targeted resumes to a career fair.
Do you get hired at job fairs?
Job seekers will not usually be hired on the spot at job fairs, but recruiters have been known to perform on-the-spot interviews with highly qualified candidates. Recruiters will generally contact qualified candidates after the job fair to request further information or arrange a more in-depth interview.
What do you say at career fairs?
You should introduce yourself to recruiters and deliver an elevator pitch on your skills, qualifications, and interest in the company. You should also have a list of questions to ask the company about the company itself, the application process, and the specific job you're interested in. You will also need to be prepared to answer any questions the recruiter may ask you.
What should I ask at a career fair?
- Ask about a particular role; for example, "what are you looking for in [open role] if you could have your ideal candidate?"
- Ask about the hiring process.
- Ask about the recruiter's experience at the company.
- Ask about the company's growth and how they support their employees.
- Ask about recent news or product releases from the company.
- Ask about the company culture.
How do I succeed in career fairs?
- Have a clear focus or goal and plan your strategy.
- Have multiple copies of targeted resumes ready to go.
- Create a short, sharp elevator pitch and rehearse it.
- Prepare answers to typical interview questions and rehearse them.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask the recruiters.
- Make sure all your materials are ready the day before the fair.
- Make a good first impression and get the recruiter's business card before leaving.
- Follow up after the fair with a thank you email.
How do you introduce yourself at a career fair?
When introducing yourself at a career fair, approach the recruiter with confidence, make eye contact, smile, and offer a handshake. Greet the recruiter, offer your name, and state your purpose in talking to them.
What should I do after a career fair?
After a career fair, send a follow-up email to the recruiters thanking them for their time and reiterate your interest in their company, even if they don't have a job opportunity for you at the moment. If you are applying for an available job, follow the recruiter's instructions and submit your application within a few days of the fair.
How should I dress for a career fair?
Whether you are an employer or a job seeker, when dressing for a career fair you should present a professional and confident appearance. While it's not necessary to wear a full suit, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed when attending a career fair.