Job fairs are on the rise in the United States, especially for healthcare workers, who have had over 37K new jobs introduced to the market in October alone. We have touched on several guides in the past of how to stand-out and succeed in interviews, but job fairs are a different beast entirely.
In interviews, candidates have a fair amount of time to put themselves in the best light. In a private and enclosed space, conversation flows naturally and there are few distractions to take away from the candidate’s presentation of their achievements.
A job fair is more like a polite free-for-all. While you are unlikely to be directly interrupted when speaking to a possible employer, you are being watched, measured, and judged by your possible competition on the spot, and they will use your example as preparation to one-up you.
The three most popular types of job fairs each have their own decorum and standards, meaning that they will each have their own challenges for candidates to overcome if they want to be remembered. We have taken an extensive look at in-person, virtual, and drive-thru job fairs to give you the top 3 tips necessary for succeeding in each setting.
In-Person Job Fair
Like all of our examples, there is a benefit and a detriment to an in-person job fair. Often, as a candidate, you are facing multiple possible employers in a single location who are often within earshot of each other. The company representatives are likely to be distracted by the massive crowds, other interested candidates, and their own recruitment efforts.
So how do you make a good, non-intrusive lasting impression? It is easier than you may think:
- Do Your Research: You do not want to be researching on your phone at the fair itself. Not only will you look unprepared, but it will likely lead you to miss some great opportunities while you are panic scrolling. Instead, look up the companies that are going to be present and their booth locations. Plan a pathway so you are not constantly walking back and forth and, if possible, create specific resumes for positions you are looking to target.
- Dress Professionally, Not Just Nice: This is an important distinction that often gets lost. You need to dress nice, yes, but you need to dress the type of nice that matches your profession. This is not to say that you should wear scrubs to a nursing job fair, but a three-piece tuxedo would certainly be over the line. Because your full body is on display, your outfit does count as your first impression.
- Your Focus Matters: Ultimately, your focus matters more than theirs does. If you are allowing yourself to be distracted by the hustle and bustle around you, it will allow the representatives you are speaking to to do the same. Face the representative, stay engaged, and if you see them lose focus, ask a question to bring them back to you naturally.
Virtual Job Fair
There are two major benefits to a virtual job fair: candidate comfort and availability. That being said, there are two major downfalls: minimum direct interaction and high capacity for confusion.
For rather obvious reasons, minimum direct interaction can make being memorable at a job fair very difficult, and no one wants to be remembered as the loud, forceful, disruptive participant. The high capacity for confusion can come from difficulties in communication or connection during the presentations or at individual ‘booths’, leading to ineffective meetings where people are more likely to be frustrated about the problems than focused on those who they met.
- Your Background Matters: When doing a virtual interview, it is still important to dress yourself for the part, as discussed above. That being said, it is common that a camera may show more of your background than it will of your outfit. In a virtual setting, consider your background to be your first impression. Ensure that it is clean, organized, and representative of you as an employee.
- Be Heard, Properly: Microphone feedback is annoying in a live setting, but can be almost painful in a virtual one. Make sure you have a good, clear microphone that will allow your voice to come through without disruptions. Additionally, take time to make sure you have minimal background noises, such as traffic, construction, or people, which will take away from what you are saying.
- Update Your Social Media: Having your resume prepared is a no-brainer for any kind of job fair, but for virtual ones, it is imperative to clean up and update your socials before the event starts. Make sure that your LinkedIn, Handshake, and Facebook are all reflective of your work as a professional so if an interested employer looks you up, they see what you want them to see.
Drive-Thru Job Fair
Drive-thru job fairs are a budding practice that game to fruition due to the dangers of COVID. These fairs have somehow managed to find the best of both the in-person and virtual job fairs and combine it into an oddly effective practice.
Drive-thru job fairs are outside fairs, often held in open areas like parking lots, that allow candidates to drive up to tents or representatives and apply for positions. In some cases, these fairs allow for social distanced in-person interviews by taking advantage of the open location to meet face-to-face with possible future employees. So how do you ace this hybrid job fair?
- Dress for Comfort and Success: You need to look presentable, but you also need to be able to get out of the car and interview if the opportunity is right. Wear an outfit that is comfortable to drive in and will not cause constant shifting, in case you are in the same spot for extended periods of time. Additionally, wearing something that looks neat when you step out of your car is important, so you do not spend excessive time fixing yourself in front of your future employers.
- Your Car is Your New Background: The inside and outside of your car are additional representations of yourself. No one wants to spend time near a car covered in bird dropping and bug remnants, so make sure to wash the outside of your car and organize the inside. Get rid of trash and fold/organize anything that needs to stay in the car so it looks presentable.
- Take the Day: Navigating a packed parking lot on a normal day can be frustrating. Trying to do it in a completely new setting while staying professional and ready to interview? Even more difficult. When doing a drive-thru job fair, take the day to focus on the interviews and applications without fear of fitting the event into a packed schedule. The last thing you need to do is get into an accident in front of a possible future employer.
If you are looking for a new career opportunity and want to apply directly, check out our job board! If you want to speak with a recruiter who may be able to help you with a specific opportunity, no need for a job fair. Instead, send us an updated resume here!