Career fairs are now as common as boring letters of application. But you don't have to be nervous because you might miss something. Instead, it's important that you attend the right job fair at the right time. So what can you expect from a visit to such a fair when you're looking for your next job or internship? Should you prepare as well as for an interview? And are the frequently offered application checks worthwhile?
What is your goal when visiting a career fair?
In order to determine whether attending a job fair makes sense for you, you need to be clear about your goals. What do you want to achieve with your visit to a trade fair?
- Do you just want to find out which jobs might be suitable for you?
- Are you looking for a specific job or internship?
- Do you want to have your application documents checked?
- Do you need new free pens, pads, erasers and highlighters?
The easiest way to achieve your final goal is to get all the companies to give you free giveaways. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a specific offer, for example for your next internship, you will of course have to prepare yourself accordingly.
Collect contacts and make the best impression
At a career fair you have the chance to talk to representatives of companies. You will often meet HR managers and have the opportunity to talk to relevant people in a relaxed environment. This is usually only possible in an interview, where you first have to be invited. In addition, an interview is often much more formal. On the other hand, at the fair you can gather important information about a company, which will later help you with your written application and in the interview.
In smaller companies, you might even have the chance to face your future boss or possible colleagues directly. If you are convincing in a personal interview, you can collect many plus points for a later application. You can prepare the interviews as intensively as a job interview.
Corporations and large companies at a job fair
Large companies in particular have special trade fair teams and HR employees who are responsible for supporting and attending career fairs. If you are not looking for an internship or a job in this area, you will not get to know your potential colleagues or your future boss at a trade fair. It is also difficult to make a lasting impression as an interested visitor at large trade fairs. In some cases, company representatives hold several dozen meetings a day. Even if you leave your contact details, for example on a business card, the person you are talking to may not remember you at all in the evening. However, you should remember the name of your interviewee so that you can mention it in a later application. Sometimes it is also possible to book a fixed appointment with a company in advance. This can greatly increase your chances of making a lasting impression.
Tips for interviews and job interviews at the Career Fair
You don't just want to be one of hundreds of exchangeable trade fair visitors, but you really want to be remembered by your business partners and leave an impression. First of all, you have to be perfectly prepared. If you are particularly interested in a company, then inform yourself in advance especially about this employer. At the trade fair stand you can then shine with your knowledge and perhaps also ask the decisive questions that will keep you in your mind for a long time to come.
You should also think about your outfit. If you want to make a particularly serious impression, then you can appear in a suit or costume. You should also print out your resume a few times so that you can hand it over to your interviewer when the time is right. If you have arranged individual appointments with company representatives, you can also bring along your complete application documents in several copies. You should also visit the most important companies for you as early as possible in the day. Then you and the company representatives are not tired of a long day at the fair.
When talking and interviewing at a career fair, the same rules basically apply as at a job interview: Be an active listener and speaker, signal interest with your body language and generally act in such a way that people would like to work with you.
How else could you stand out from other applicants?
Instead of attacking your interviewer directly with the sentence he heard dozens of times today ("Hello, I have an appointment...", "Hello, I'm interested in an internship..."), you might be able to surprise him with something new: "Your presentation earlier was really interesting, especially..." or "I really like your stand because...".
Are there exclusive job offers at career fairs?
At many job fairs you will find a special section where you can post the collected job offers of the participating companies. Some companies also have these postings at their own stands. However, in the vast majority of cases these job advertisements are not to be found exclusively at the fair. This would not make sense for the companies either, as they want to get to the best applicants as quickly as possible. That's why the same ads are also available on the company's website or in various job portals. And in most cases, as a trade fair visitor you also have to follow the normal application procedure, for example via an online portal. However, it may be that you leave such an impression in a personal interview with a company representative that you will be invited directly for another interview. You may even be offered a position that was not advertised at all. This is especially the case with internships. Your presentation at the company stand would then have been your unsolicited application.
Free application check and application photos
Many job fairs also offer the opportunity to have your application documents checked out. Often this is even possible free of charge, as the application check is financed by a company or sponsor. In some cases you can also have application photos taken at a career fair. Unfortunately, in such cases there is often little time left for a single photo session, as many visitors simply want to take a photo. In order to get the perfect application photo, sometimes some time and patience is necessary. Therefore, you should consider whether the effort for a photo is worthwhile when visiting the fair, or whether you prefer to invest a little more time and money for an application photo with the photographer.
Prepare yourself for the job fair
Before you visit the fair, you can view the programme online to find interesting companies and presentations. So you can plan your day in advance. You should also have a pen and notepad with you and something to eat and drink, because a day at the fair can be really long. You should also consider how you can make a professional impression. This includes, for example, not showing up with your dented backpack, but with a briefcase instead. Furthermore, deodorant, chewing gum and a comb can provide you with faithful service if you want to freshen up in between. If you have a longer journey, then it can also be useful to change your clothes on the spot.
After the Career Fair
After your day at the fair you probably collected tons of flyers, ballpoint pens and small gummy bear bags from different stands. And maybe a few contacts. You can throw away unimportant things, you can eat gummy bears, but the most important things are of course the contacts you made at the fair. Maybe you can get in touch with your social networking partners or send them your application documents. In any case, don't let too much time pass before you become active here.