How to Stand Out at Job and Career Fairs

First things first, for those of you who don’t already know: what is a career fair?

A career fair or job expo is an event that connects hiring employers, recruiters, and job seekers. It can be your big chance to put your best foot forward and land an opportunity, or to learn more about what’s out there.

But with so many events and even more attendees, it can be tough to figure out techniques for success. Which ones do you go to? What do you do while you’re there? How do you make the most of the time you’ll get with the people you want to talk to?

Here’s what you need to do beforehand:

1. Prepare your 20 second elevator pitch and 2 minute introduction. You’ll be meeting a lot of people who can help you get to where you want to go. Sit down right now and practice a short, 20 second outline of your unique value offering, experiences, top accomplishments, and what you’re looking for as well as a longer 2-minute version.

2. Define what it is you want to achieve. This way, you can come up with a game plan for the event by narrowing down which booths you want to visit, who you want to talk to, and what you’re going to say when they ask you what you’re looking for.

3. Brush up on your answers to common interview questions. What experience do you have? What kind of positions are you looking for? Why this company? Nail the impromptu interviews by preparing beforehand!

4. Do your research. This is how you can stand out from the hundreds of other candidates that an employer may talk to on a given day at a career fair. Once you’ve narrowed down which companies you want to connect with, try and find information about what types of projects they’re working on and what the trends are in their industry.

5. Prepare some networking questions to get the conversation going. They can be as simple as:

  • What is the company culture like at your organization?
  • What do you look for in an employee in your ____ division?
  • What are the opportunities like for career progression and personal development?

Here’s what you need to do the day of:

  • Dress in tidy, professional, business casual wear
  • Come with a portfolio that contains your up-to-date resume and business card
  • Keep conversations with companies and recruiters short – there will likely be a lot of other people who want to talk to them!
  • Don’t approach a company or a recruiter who can’t help you, it’s waste of their time and yours

Here’s what you need to know if you’re in or around the GTA during the next few months and want to attend top career fairs:

Hire Canada Job Fair & Training Expo on September 18th, 2013 – This event will be open to the general public in Mississauga. In addition to meeting with recruiters, you’ll also have the chance to get feedback on your resume while you’re there. Admission is free!

The National Job Fair on Sept. 24-25th, 2013 – This event is catered towards professionals with approximately 3 years of work experience and advanced degrees. But, anyone can attend and visit booths from over 130 companies from all industries.

The Canada Job Expo on October 1st, 2013 – Not only will employers and recruiters be at this event, you’ll also get the chance to learn about some of the most up-to-date job search techniques through workshops and seminars presented by experts. This event is open to the general public and welcomes everyone, from students to experienced professionals. Admission is free!

The Toronto Career Fair on October 6th, 2013 – You’ll get the chance to take part in Toronto’s largest Career Fair, network with prominent GTA employers, get feedback on your resume and some interviewing tips, as well as learn how to network effectively. Admission is free!

The City Career Expo on October 18-19th, 2013 – This event is also open to the general public, and will bring together companies from all industries. Their upcoming Toronto event will take place at North York Memorial Hall.

Have you been to a Career Fair? What’s the top tip you would give to others trying to take advantage of these events? Let me know in the comments section!