Effective Job Fair Tips for Your Jacksonville Job Search

Whether you are a recent graduate, looking to change careers, or returning to the workforce after a short or extended leave, is it worth your time to go to a career fair?  Sometimes the effectiveness of these events is overlooked, but I think they are very worthwhile if you approach it with the right frame of mind.

Since there are a few local job fairs coming up in Jacksonville in the next few months I thought the timing was perfect.  National Career Fairs will hold a job fair on August 20th at the Jacksonville Marriott and Coast to Coast Career Fairs is also having a career fair event on September 16th at the Crowne Plaza- Jacksonville Riverfront.  Most likely you will be devoting about half of your day to attend the event, so it’s best to strategize before you go.

While some job fairs will boast that they are hiring on the spot, most companies exhibiting at the event won’t plan on hiring candidates that day.  If you go the event with the right set of goals you can make the most out of the event. 

First, before you go, research the event and find out which companies will be attending.  Determine which ones you are interested in and find out where their booths are located in the exhibit hall.  This will save you time once you’re there at the event.  Next, jot down some questions you want to ask these employers.  There’s a lot to be said for seeing people in person.  You can learn a lot more than by simply reading an employer’s “About Us” section on their website. This is your chance to get a better feeling for the company dynamics, what they are looking for in a candidate, and determine if the company will be a good fit for you. 

Once you’re at the event, start making connections.  Make sure you bring your upbeat and friendly personality, bring copies of your resume, dress professionally, and remember to smile as you introduce yourself.  Some employers won’t take resumes and encourage you to apply online, but if there’s a specific position you are interested in you can find out more details that will help you in the application process.  A lot of positions are written generically, so by asking the right questions you can get great tips to help you fine tune your resume and cover letter before applying.  As you talk with everyone, remember to take notes too.

Another great benefit you gain by attending the event is the business cards.  You now have a direct line to a person rather than just a generic HR/recruiting email address.  When you follow up after applying for a position with that company, you can mention you met that person at the career fair.  If you made a great connection, ask if you can connect with that person on LinkedIn.  When you are applying for a position with that company, mention the person you spoke with and discuss your conversation in your cover letter.  It adds a personal touch and goes beyond the typical form cover letter that recruiters and HR professionals are used to seeing.

Above all, the career fair is what you make of it.  If you go into it with the right frame of mind, you can gain a lot of valued insight into companies and make professional connections that may help you in your job search later on.

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