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Tips on Attending a Job Fair

At a job fair, company representatives rent a display area to present information on their company and its job opportunities. Some companies will conduct in-house job fairs to give a firsthand account of working environment and employment opportunities. It is up to you to approach the representatives, introduce yourself, and describe your employment goals. To find out about upcoming job fairs, visit your local Job Center, the Connecticut Department of Labor's Job and Career Fairs Web site at www.ctjobfairs.com, or your local newspaper. Follow the tips below for a productive job fair visit:

Do Your Homework. Before attending any job fair, obtain a list of participating companies and research key information on those firms in which you are interested. Recruiters will ask, "What do you know about us?" and you should have an answer prepared.

Know What You're Looking For. When a recruiter asks "What are you looking for?" be prepared to answer. Recruiters are not willing to waste their time with people who are in a "what job pays the most" attitude or are unsure of what they want. Even if you can't narrow your career choice to fewer than three, identify only one to each recruiter. If you have more than one résumé, separate each version by colored folders so you can easily pick the appropriate one. Saying, "Oh, that's the wrong résumé," and trying to take it back could ruin an opportunity.

Bring Extra Résumés and Business Cards. Copiers are generally not available and finding a copy place takes time away from your job search. Try to determine the number of companies attending and bring at least one résumé for each company. Note that some companies may request additional copies in order to forward them on to different departments. If you do happen to run out of résumés, exchange business cards with the recruiter to ensure that your name will be remembered. Business cards are also helpful when networking with other jobseekers at the fair.

Get the Recruiters' Business Cards. This allows you to address follow-up calls and letters to a specific person. Take the time to jot down notes on the back of the card about what you discussed. When you talk to the recruiter again, you will be able to jar each other's memory by saying, "I remember you, we were talking about marketing research opportunities."

Present Yourself in a Professional Manner. Don't make the mistake of showing up in casual attire. Recruiters may consider you if you're in business casual, but professional attire gives you a winning edge and reflects your motivation. Be polite, courteous, and pleasant to everyone you encounter.

Approach Employers Individually. If you choose to carpool with a friend, arrange a meeting time and split up while visiting companies. Showing up in a group makes a recruiter doubt that you are serious about your job search efforts. Do not bring children. An employer will be reluctant to hire someone without reliable daycare.

Go Early. Usually the slowest time of a job fair is the first hour, so arrive early to spend more time with employers. Give yourself at least an hour to walk through and talk to the company representatives. The worst time to arrive is the last hour; some employers will have found their new employee and left early.

Visit as Many Companies as Possible. Pick up a list of the employers exhibiting and visit all of them. Don't skip a company because of its name or type of business. A hospital may have openings for clerical staff and a manufacturer may be looking for a nurse. Check with employment agencies - you may find the company you wish to work for is represented by one of them.

Talk to Other Candidates. While standing in line, take time to talk to other candidates. Someone may have turned down a position you would find rewarding and someone else may be employed at a company in which you are interested. A job fair is a perfect opportunity to establish new networking contacts.

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