Many students question why they should attend job fair. They think they can find a job easily enough through an online search. While finding jobs through online sources is viable, there are certain advantages to attending a local career fair that you just cannot get with an online job search.

There are several reasons why attending Job Fairs makes perfect sense. And, they may be things that you have not considered. So, here are some reasons for you to attend Job Fairs.

Actual Time with recruiters

When you submit your Resume for a position online, a recruiter may review for (at most) 20-30 seconds before making a decision. Compare this scenario with a Job Fair. In a Job Fair, you can actually speak to a recruiter in a face-to-face conversation. You can also do it for more than a cursory few seconds, although you should be respectful of his or her time.

Good Conversational Practice

It is rare for a person to feel comfortable selling themselves in an interview. Unless you have that rare extroverted personality that is conducive to this, then only practice will help you get better at it. Going to a Job Fair is a great way for you to get some of this real world practice

Open Positions

A Job Fair can be a fairly expensive option for an employer. You have the cost of the table, all the promotional items (pens, etc.), plus the tremendous cost of time (you are tying up a recruiter or two for an entire day). The point being that these companies are generally pretty serious about hiring. It may be because they have multiple openings, they can’t find the right person, or they need someone immediately. All of these reasons can be viewed as good news for you

It is Efficient

If you are looking for a job, searching can be a lot of work. You have to search online for postings, network, etc. With a Job Fair, you have all the recruiters in a room! All you need to do is go to each table that interests you, hand in a resume, and start a conversation. In a couple of hours, you could have several legitimate job leads and the name of the actual Recruiter working on it. Now that is a good use of your time!

Discover Something New

With online or paper postings, you are primarily finding what you are searching for. By this, I mean you are looking at certain positions, industries, or companies. With a Job Fair, however, you really don’t have any restrictions. You are free to explore and find out about different industries (perhaps a company you never heard before) or even a different career

It Physically Engages You

I mentioned in the opening that most Job Seekers take a passive approach to job searching. They conduct it from their home, send out resumes and wait for a call. Going to a Job Fair requires you to take your search off of auto-pilot. In my opinion, that is a good thing. For one, it gets you out of the house, which is especially important if you are unemployed. A Job Fair can also be a great place to network. You can meet and engage with other Job Seekers, there often are seminars that you can attend, and of course, you meet a bunch of recruiters.

In short, Job fairs are a prime opportunity to put yourself in front of employers who are hiring. However, if you’re not properly prepared, they can also feel completely overwhelming. This is especially true for first-time job fair attendees. In order to maximize your time and make the right impression at a job fair, there are a few things to keep in mind. They include:

Dress for success

Some people are thrown off by the notion of a job fair, and believe that since it’s not a formal interview, there’s no need to dress up. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Companies that show up to job fairs take the experience seriously, and will evaluate you based on how prepared you are and how you’re dressed. Even if it’s not a formal one-on-one interview, come in business attire and bring a resume.

Prepare ahead of time

Do some research online and find out about the types of businesses will attend the job fair. Research the specific companies you’d like to target. You don’t want to stop by a booth and realize that you have absolutely no idea what the company does. Worse still, you don’t know what you could offer them. Just as you would in a traditional job interview, you should do your homework about the businesses before attending the Job Fair.

Don’t forget to follow-up

At the Job fairs, you will get in touch with several different businesses in a short amount of time. This can make following up a challenge. As you move through the Job Fair, you should take notes about the booths you visited and the people you connected with at each booth. This makes following up with these individuals much easier. Also, make sure to keep the business cards you collect properly organised.

Bring more copies of your resume

If you only see three or four businesses at the Job Fair that interest you, it’s still wise to print several copies of your resume. Companies may show up last minute! Or, you may want to hand a copy to a hiring manager and another manager that’s working the booth that day. If you’re going to a job fair, make it worth your while and pass out as many resumes as possible.

Tip: if there’s one business you’re especially excited about and are feeling nervous, try stopping by a few other booths first. You’ll get your confidence level up and practice introducing yourself before your big moment with the hiring manager you truly want to impress.

Bonus tip

If you think a Job Fairs are relics of the past, then you are sadly mistaken and, unfortunately, you are missing out on great opportunities. The next time there is a Job Fair near you, make a point to attend with a stack of your freshly printed resumes. There will be dozens of recruiters waiting for you!