How to Represent Yourself at a Job Fair

by Oubria Tronshaw

Job fairs allow employers and job candidates to meet, converse and find out what it might be like to work together. To make a good impression, first make sure your resume and cover letter are up to date and free of errors. If you're nervous about speaking to potential employers, conduct a few mock interviews with family and friends to get more comfortable promoting your skills and experience.

Dress to impress at your job fair. As the saying goes, you will not get a second chance to make a first impression. Wear clean, ironed and well-fitting professional attire. Your hair and nails should be clean and neat, and makeup should be subtle. Remove facial piercings and wear an outfit that covers tattoos. Although your job performance ultimately has nothing to do with the way you look, you do need to present yourself in a certain way to be taken seriously.

Come prepared to the job fair, since every detail can help you land an interview. US News and World Report recommends researching the companies that will be at the job fair beforehand. You should know what products and services they offer, who their customers and competitors are, and which open positions you’re qualified to apply for. You should also be prepared to explain your education, job history and career goals, and how getting the jobs you’re interested in can help advance those goals.

Be confident and enthusiastic at the job fair. Show employers that you’re capable of talking about your skills and talents, as well as comfortable asking insightful questions of potential employers. Give a firm handshake, look potential employers in the eye, and speak in a clear, audible voice. Smile and relax. Don’t fidget or pull at your clothes. Express yourself intelligently and articulately, without falling back on filler words like “umm” or “ahh.”

Show respect and professionalism by addressing potential employers with their official titles and last names -- such as “Ms. Wesley” or “Dr. Arnold” -- unless you are asked to call them by a first name. Write down the name, job title and company name of each contact you speak with. Keep a record of the companies you gave your resume to. Regardless of how many people you meet, invest fully in each conversation so no one feels as if speaking to you is a waste of time. Listen closely, pay attention, respond to each question you’re asked, and ask a few well-thought questions of your own.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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