How To Prepare For A Job Fair

Dear J.T. & Dale: A large wholesale company recently moved into my area and is having a job fair. What should I bring? Copies of my resume? A list of references? Salary requirements? - Betty

J.T.: Always go prepared with resumes and references, but don’t expect to use them. Most employer job fairs are impromptu interview sessions. You’ll fill out an application and meet some people, and then, if all goes well, they’ll be in touch. As for the more traditional multi-employer job fairs, those are a way for you to get to know employers better so that when they have openings, you can use what you learned at the job fair to tailor your application. You occasionally might be asked for your resume and references, but more likely, you’ll be directed to their online application system.

DALE: The company might even try to make the job fair seem festive – balloons, maybe music, maybe even popcorn … and a whole lot of other applicants. So even though they are out to hire a lot of employees, the odds still are against you. Maybe they want to hire 50 people, and 500 show up. How do you increase your odds? Spend time researching the company and some more time using social media to try to find some connections to current employees. You’d be amazed at how few people bother to do this. Being able to talk intelligently about the company’s products, executives and successes will make you a standout, and while others leave with popcorn and a balloon, you’ll leave with a job offer.

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