Education Career Services

April 26, 2010

Job Fair Opportunities, NEVER miss out!

With the unemployment rate as it is, NOW is NOT the time to sit back and wait. As a matter of fact, NOW has never been a better time to become active in your own career success. With this in mind, I encourage all students (and alumni as well as seasoned professionals) to explore the many benefits of a job fair.

For those currently employed, job fairs offer insight as to the latest employment trends and marketing techniques while opening a slew of networking contacts. Think about it, where else do hundreds of individuals and company representatives gather under one roof? This is an optimal medium on multiple career fronts… don’t miss out on these types of opportunities simply because you are employed.

For students, alumni, or any individual seeking employment or career transition, job fairs are an ideal event for career shopping. Unfortunately the probability of actually landing a job offer during a job fair is minimal, offers do happen. More often than not, the information you present during the job fair will be relayed back to company headquarters where it will be reviewed. Oftentimes the representative from the job fair will be included in the review, thus the importance of following proper business etiquette is essential (as well as the bullets below).

At its core, job fairs are a perfect place to practice and sharpen your career management skills. For example, if you lack a solid introduction (15-30 second) statement (elevator or brand as many circles label), now is the time get it right. If you have shy tendencies or simply don’t know answers to basic interview questions (“why should I hire you” and/or “tell me about yourself”), no better time than NOW to get it right. To help you along the way, here is…

Info you need to know:

* Bring plenty resumes and cover letters (make sure your resume and cover letter highlights the value and contributions you WILL bring to a company).
Dress appropriately; no jeans, no baseball caps, no tennis shoes (yes, even shoes are important) and, for the guys, wear a tie with your slacks/long sleeve shirt; for a ladies, professional attire ONLY.
* Look the part; first impressions weigh heavily. If all else fails and you are unsure what is right or wrong, be conservative, if you have facial rings, take them off for this go around and if you are tacked out, try to cover the ink up. I know you’re thinking this is who you are and if the company doesn’t want you the way you are, too bad. News flash, this event is NOT about you… it’s about what you can do for the company and if you fit THEIR image… leading us to the next bullet.
* Brand yourself the right way; this not only means how you look but what you say. Speak in a confident manner, NEVER talk badly about a past employer, and prepare a nice 15 second (give or take a few seconds) introductory statement (aka an elevator speech).
* Introduce yourself with a firm handshake (please no clammy or overtaking—nothing like giving someone the creeps from the get-go) and retain eye to eye contact without getting into a contest (no staring, another creepy potential creepy moment).
Bring yourself; do NOT bring children, parents, or friends.
* Professional courtesy goes a long way… being impatient, interrupting, or plain old rude gets you nowhere quick.

Following basic guidelines when putting yourself “out there” gives you the upper hand. Enough reading for now, you have a job fair to prepare for!

Wishing you nothing but success,

dhuffman, certified resume writer, certified career coach, certified interview professional, and owner of Career Services International, Education Career Services as well as author of over 12 career management publications. Contact him at with have any career questions or issues.


March 2, 2009

Job Fair Realism

Sorry for being a tad late this morning but had a little fender bender along the way to work.  Needless to say, all is well and my back bumper is the only thing needing replacment.  While waiting for the accident report, I listened to NPR (National Public Radio) and a discussion regarding job fairs.


According to the radio, job fair attendance has been increasing dramatically over the past few years.  As a matter of fact, there was a recent job fair in New York that attracted 5,000 individuals looking for a job.  One in South Carolina doubled it’s attendance to 1,000 from last year’s as well.  Interesting enough, the one in South Carolina was offering 18 part time (and relatively lower paying) positions.  Upon further review, it became apparent that job fairs are a great place to hone in on your job searching skills but can not, and should not, be a primary source.


According to NPR, there is a low success rate during job fairs and for those receiving job offers, they typically tend to be short term and with a lower salary.  With the odds so wide against success, what does one do to stand out amongst such a crowd?


Common Sense:

  • Have plenty of hard copy resumes, cover letters, and networking cards
  • Have a well-prepared elevator speech, highlighting what you offer to a prospective company (in other words, how will you bring in money or decrease costs)
  • Appearance is important (I have been to many job fairs and couldn’t help but note how poorly dressed the vast majority were)
  • Possess realistic expectation and take advantage of the networking system (meet, greet, and exchange information with fellow professionals and students—one never knows what tomorrow may bring)
  • Do not become frustrated or overwhelmed due to the mass of job seekers

Let’s be realistic, job fairs are successful for many but given today’s highly competitive employment arena, there is a lower success rate than previous years.  I encourage all students to attend as many job fairs as humanly possible.  Professionals with a vast amount of experience may find greater success at job fairs specific to their industry. 


While a professor and dean of academic affairs, I personally witnessed many students attain lucrative offers due to job fairs—they are out there!  Follow the common sense bullets above and never stop believing in yourself and the contributions you will bring to your next employer.


If you have a specific job fair story you would like to share to our group, feel free to submit as a comment or email directly to me.


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

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