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October 2009
How to Make Job Fairs Productive
by Susan Reynolds

You’re all painfully aware that there are far too few openings for the mass of capable and talented job searchers.  So you see a notice for a job fair and hope for the best.  Let’s develop your expectations and make a plan of attack!  It is often frustrating that there are simply not enough exhibitors offering positions of high enough substance.  You can still be productive, gather information that is very helpful to your job search, and make great connections, even if an exhibitor doesn’t seem attractive initially.

You’ll need to have a resume that is particularly general and VERY easy to scan.  This scenario will give new meaning to getting only a quick look!  Your skills must be very evident at just a glance.  You’ll have a number of copies with you, but won’t hand them out left and right.  Your goal will be to gather information and business contacts too.

If there is a preannounced list of exhibitors, do your homework ahead of time.  Look at websites so that you’re prepared for an intelligent, informed conversation that revolves around the goals and needs of each company.  You will then be better able to steer the conversation in a productive direction, ask informed questions, and get a higher quality of useful answers.  Perhaps you can gain insight about the needs of an organization that surpass just the positions being featured at the job fair.  Be deductive.  You can learn about industry competitors, and other organizations related to the exhibitors, that can be excellent targets themselves.

At the event, take time to view each booth and develop your approach.  Be ready to tell about yourself in a succinct and impactful way, but ask earnestly about the company, its growth, its culture, its products, and more.  Obviously, this kind of conversation will only be possible if you’ve chosen a moment when there isn’t a crowd hovering.

You’ll have productively moved your job search forward, gathering contacts and ideas, even if none of the exhibitors are specifically promoting a position that’s right for you!

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at Newmarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search and career strategy firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers.  She can be reached at or

Other Job and Career Success Related Articles:
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Successful Transitional Job Search

The Price for Good People

Social Media Networking for Job Search

Just Don't Get Arrested!

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