How to Make a Good First Impression at a Job Fair

As Spring Break quickly approaches job fairs across the country are in full swing. Employers are sourcing top new talent at colleges across the world. In order to get any type of follow-up call from a recruiter you’ll want to make sure that first impression is your best. Job fairs are the best opportunity for you to find and make a face-to-face connection with a possible employer. Everyone says first impressions count and in this instance they are 100% correct.

How to Make a Good First Impression at a Job Fair

A recent figure on recruitment strategy states that more than 70% of companies with HR departments rely on job fairs to find new employees. This means that companies are putting effort into job fairs and are willing to go the extra mile for the right crowd of talented individuals. No matter the company, you’ll never know the true value of each connection you make at a job fair. With thousands of students attending job fairs yearly most go in without knowing the true ins and outs of a job fair and figure they’ll go, just because. But never fear, here are a few tips that will have you landing multiple job offers by creating the best first impression:

Research. Just do it. Knowing beforehand the job positions available at certain companies will allow you to go in with a great knowledge of the company. Recruiters get tired real fast explaining over and over what their company does and what positions they have open. Instead be one of the star prospects and come prepared with research and specific questions about the job opening you’re personally interested in applying for. Doing research shows that you’re already invested into the company and will go along way with recruiters.

Practice Your Pitch. You want to practice what you’re going to say to each employer on why you are the best candidate for the job. Get together with your friend or career services department and practice answering general interview questions. You’ll also want to put together a short list of questions to ask each employer. They hear themselves talk all day long without little to any response from potential candidates. Switch it up on them and be the one asking questions.

Dress the Part. This also should be one of those unwritten rules when going to a career fair, but every time I go to one I see someone dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. That is a big no-no in the world of recruitment.  Wear conservative business attire and make sure you look well groomed. You will also want to carry your materials in a professional folder or portfolio. Don’t be one that person that goes into a job fair looking like a slob.

Follow-Up. No job fair is complete without the post fair follow-up. Using business cards you’ve collected from potential employers, write letters to key company representatives thanking them for their time. Make sure to reiterate your strengths and let them know that you will call them in a few more days to follow-up. Don’t waste a perfect job fair with absolutely no follow-up. It’s likely a recruiter gathered hundreds of business cards and can’t call on each and every one of them. Due diligence afterwards can be just as important as your preparation beforehand.

When attending a job fair, think of it as a group interview. Come prepared, dress appropriately, and follow-up after everything is said and done. If you follow all these keys to success your experience at a job fair will be one that produces great yields. In an economy where it can be rough to find a job you’ll need to put your best foot forward in any situation you’re given for a new opportunity. The last piece of advice is to be you. Coming into a job fair with all your ducks in a row is prime, but don’t prepare to the extent where you come off as fake. Nobody likes a fake.


What are your job fair secrets? 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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