Navigating a Job Fair 101

Job fairs - they can be crowded, loud, disorienting and oftentimes intimidating to young professionals just starting their job search. Unfortunately, this creates a bit of a paradox, as job fairs are an especially useful tool for those same students and recent graduates who are nervous to take part. Meeting with representatives at a job fair is a fantastic way to make a lasting first impression and learn more about an organization.

Despite some improvement to the economy in recent years, the job market continues to be competitive, particularly for millennials. As such, it is vital to develop a strategy before heading to a job fair in order to truly stand out among the crowd of other hopefuls.

Develop a game plan

Preparation is key to success at a job fair. It's important, first of all, to edit and polish your resume as best you can, argued. If at all possible, have a careers counselor look over your resume for you. That person will be able to advise you on various aspects of the resume writing process.

With your polished resume in hand, be sure to investigate a job fair that's appropriate for your professional background and career goals. As U.S. News & World Report pointed out, trying to find something suitable at a more general job fair could end up being a waste of time. The best way to guarantee that you're heading to the right fair is to do some prior research online. Find out what companies will be present at job fairs across your area and then make a plan to target the organizations that interest you most. Research your favored companies in detail, by using their website, social media site or both. Recruiters will be impressed if you demonstrate some prior knowledge of the organization, Business Insider asserted.

Don't be a wallflower

Once you have arrived at the fair, confidence is vital. Walk up to the desired employer, firmly shake her hand while making eye contact and introduce yourself, Business Insider advised. Ultimately, consider the experience as a series of mini-interviews; dress professionally and be prepared to discuss your accomplishments and career ambitions.

Keep in touch after

Keeping in touch with employers after the fair is imperative. Don't expect the recruiter to remember who you are or make the first move. Send a follow up email during the first 24 hours after the event. If you leave it any longer, you run the risk of the recruiter forgetting about you. In the email be sure to thank her for her time and express your continued interest in the company. Afterwards, submit an online application to the job that you want.