5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart at a Job Fair

How to Set Yourself Apart in a Job Fair

While job fairs and meet-up events are full of job opportunities, they’re also full of job seekers. The key to getting an interview is to promote yourself well. Read on for a list of tips on how to stand out from the crowd.

1. Come Prepared

If you’re meeting up with potential employers, bring along a batch of resumes. You may have had a riveting conversation with a recruiting associate, but since this individual will have spoken to countless other job seekers, they’re not going to remember you unless you provide them with the necessary information.

Your time with this person is limited. You’ll have a few minutes to give them a brief summary of your experience and skills, and then it’s up to your resume to do the rest of the talking. Only when they look at your resume will they have a more complete picture of you as an employee. Handing your resume to a company representative in person is ideal – it allows that person to put a face to your resume. They’re more likely to remember you, and feel a personal connection with you.

2. Do Your Homework

Sure, you’re going to come across some great companies that you were unaware of beforehand, especially if you’re at an event with startups in attendance. But try to take a look at the company RSVP list before you head to the event.

First, this will allow you to spend less time acquainting yourself with the companies at the event, which eats up valuable networking time, and it will give you more of an opportunity to explore the companies that interest you. Secondly, when you bring some knowledge of the company to the table, it conveys to recruiters that you’re interested and enthusiastic about the job. They’ll be more likely to take you seriously, and having some common talking points will strengthen your connection with that individual.

3. Keep It Brief

It’s important not to monopolize the recruiter’s time, not only for the sake of your fellow job seekers, but also because doing so may negatively impact you as well. It’s tempting to keep a company representative’s attention when you have it, but at a certain point it becomes obnoxious.

Companies attend job fairs because they want an opportunity to talk to a range of individuals, and if you prevent them from doing so by going on and on about your various merits and reverence for the company, they’re going to get tired of you and perhaps dismiss you altogether. Keep it short and sweet. Make a powerful first impression and leave them wanting more.

4. Bear in Mind the Human Element

You’re at a job fair full of representatives from different companies. A wonderful opportunity has presented itself that you won’t find while you’re searching for jobs online – the ability to interact face to face with someone. Don’t discount the human element of this situation.

Be friendly and always be smiling. Job fairs are all about establishing a rapport with a recruiting representative, so don’t be too scared to laugh or make a joke. Of course, as in all situations, it’s important to be discerning in your interactions with another human being, but in general you’ll get farther by being friendly and likable than if you come off as stodgy and monotone.

5. Bring a Friend

Job fairs can be extremely intimidating. You walk into a room, teeming with hundreds of individuals who are there for the same purpose as you are, and yet it can still feel impossible to strike up a conversation. First, there’s that competitive element – scores of others trying to make their way to the front of the line, stealing away face time with company representatives. And then there’s the question of whether or not to spend your time talking to these people in the first place, when you could be making the rounds at the various job booths.

Each of these predicaments can easily disrupt your momentum, instead causing you to stand around awkwardly while attempting to appear busy by looking at your phone or leafing through the “Attendee” pamphlet. So bring a friend to help ease the pain. You can bounce ideas off of each other, help one another track down companies, and approach firms together.

Job fairs can often leave you feeling at the mercy of companies – after all, you want something they have. So have a friend tag along to give you a confidence boost and remind you of the power balance – you have something that companies want too!

A job search doesn’t have to feel like a violent mosh pit, fellow job seekers throwing elbows and pushing off of your shoulders. Just keep the aforementioned tips in mind, and you’ll be bodysurfing the crowd in no time!

What career fair tips have worked for you? Share us your advice in the comments.


  1. says

    Great list. These things seem like common sense but in reality many people don’t understand how to look and dress professional. First impressions are very important and you’ll be making a lot of them in just a couple hours.

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