1st things first – do your homework.
Dress appropriately. Business casual at the very least. Bring a comfortable supply of Resumes. By comfortable – I mean easy to carry along and navigate with shaking hands, networking, etc. It’s no fun to be weighed down by too heavy of a briefcase or portfolio – or with documents that are unnecessary at this point. While there will likely be hundreds of pens at your disposal, be sure to have your own on hand for filling out anything requested of you during an event, such as registrations, raffles, etc.
Please, don’t smoke just before coming in and meeting (sometimes in close proximity) recruiters face to face. First impressions are not always just visual. Just saying. Take 10 deep non-smoking breaths before going in and saying to yourself “I’ve got this!”
Go ahead and carpool to the event, but please visit the employer booths independently. No one takes a friend or parent along on an interview.
Be sure you know who is hosting the event, and why.
Is it at a local college who continues to build relationships with local employers? Beyond providing this opportunity for their students and alumni, a job/career fair held here could be a good thing. Chances are that there will be familiar faces and repeat attendance by both employers and job seekers.
Is it being held at the employers’ own location? Well, at least you know who is doing the hiring. That company most likely has current and future job openings that they are eager to fill.
Is it being organized by a job fair marketing company? Well, they may certainly be able to attract attention of both employers and applicants. But chances are, they may not be so invested in the community, other than to fill exhibit space and hopefully attract job seekers. They’re in – then they’re out.
Okay -now you want to know what employers are going to be there. Typically, this will be listed on the event site, somewhere. Be sure to visit your desired employers first, but you never know who you many encounter. Keep in mind that a recruiter who is soliciting for candidates for specific jobs on that day – may also be aware of other jobs not yet advertised. Start a conversation and just ask.
And with what I’ve heard over the past couple of years – recruiters at these events are too often turning away actual resumes — yes, the same one you’ve worked hard on to perfect and for this purpose, printed on very nice paper. Recruiters are redirecting applicants to ‘apply online.’ So, go ahead and do so – but do so before the event so you can respond – ‘Oh, I’ve already done so and thought I should bring a long a hard copy.’