Image Credits: Community Table

There is nothing more fear inducing for a recent graduate, a young professional, or an unemployed college student than a job fair. Frankly, that’s silly. Job fairs are there to serve you, to find you and connect you to the company that will hopefully be perfect for you and that you’ll call home for many years to come.  The reason that so many people fear job fairs is because they are simply unprepared and job fairs seem overwhelming. Taking a little time to do preparation before you head into the job fair will both help settle your anxiety and serve you well on the employment front.

1. An updated resume

Do not go to a job fair without a copy of your resume, and for your sake, it should probably be updated. If you just graduated college, you should probably stop listing your high school accomplishments on your resume, unless they are absolutely spectacular and jaw-dropping and guaranteed to get you hired. Likewise, if you have anything on your resume that is no longer relevant, such as current employment, update your resume to reflect that.  Any interested employer will want to see your resume, and will likely want to keep it on file, so coming with extra copies is always smart. If you need tips of creating the perfect resume, check out our article on resumes here.

2. Business cards

Your business card should be professional, legible, and on your person at all times. If you walk into a job fair or networking event without your business card, you might as well have never paid to have those cards printed in the first place. Even though you’ll have your resume on site, business cards are great ways to make connections with other job-seekers and employers alike. Often, employers like to see how you present yourself on your business card, because it does say a lot about you, even if you don’t realize it. Check out our article on business cards here.

3. An elevator pitch

Yes, I’m aware that most job fairs don’t take place in elevators, though that would make for an exciting time. An elevator pitch is your quick spiel that tells a stranger who you are, where you’re from, and what you’re looking for. Developing a well-conceived elevator pitch before heading into a job fair will help you introduce yourself and convey your message more efficiently. Your elevator pitch should always include your name (obviously), your education if relevant, and what skills you bring to the table. Are you extremely organized? Do you have a knock for computer programming? If an employer might be more likely to hire you because of it, it should probably be mentioned. An elevator pitch should not be your entire life story, or a sob story about unemployment so that people feel bad and hire you, but it should make you seem like a put-together person who would be perfect for the job.

4. Controlled confidence

If you go into a job fair thinking you are unworthy, prospective employers will end up agreeing with you. The key to a job fair is controlled confidence. Go in, with your business cards and resume, knowing that the perfect job is out there for you somewhere, and your perfect boss might just be sitting behind a table in there. If you are qualified, smart, and prepared, you’ll find what you’re looking for and one of those prospective employers will want to hire you. At the same time, go in with controlled confidence, controlled because you don’t want an ego so big you think you are above the opportunities presented to you. You may be God’s gift to politics or computer programming, but it is very off-putting to announce that to every potential employer you meet. Be sure in your own abilities, but be humble.

5. A Smile

No one wants to hire a grumpy goblin, even for a desk job. Job fairs are about making connections; it’s as simple as that. Part of going into a job fair with a good attitude, and controlled confidence, includes a smile every once and awhile. Odds are that you are at that job fair to find employment, so even if you’re having the worst day of your life, don’t make it worse by scaring away prospective employers with an evil grimace. No one expects Suzy Sunshine with a Smile on her face every day of your life, but putting on a smile during a job fair will make you seem more approachable to recruiters, and they’ll be much more receptive to hiring you if they had a pleasant experience connecting with you.