What is a Job Fair? The term 'job fair' describes one or two day events where employers and job applicants can talk informally with each other and find out what's available in the market. Job fairs can provide great value to the job seeker depending upon the scope of preparing for the event. Not only is it an opportunity to increase knowledge about organizations, some employers also screen job applicants on site, and setting up interviews for the same day or at a later date.

Preparing for a Job Fair:

1. Obtain a list of the represented organizations attending the job fair by contacting the event sponsors (if possible).

2. Explore all of your options! Have an open mind when you decide which organizations you want to visit. A high tech company, for example, may not only have computer or engineering positions open, but also a variety of other jobs succh as sales, personnel, technical writing/editing, etc.

3. Try not to have high expectations or make assumptions about what could happen at the fair. Try to shift your attitude into a positive place and visit the fair with a 'curious' mind. Ask yourself, "What will I learn here?" And watch for opportunities. Have a good time exploring.

4. The more information you can gather about the organization in advance, the better prepared you will be to speak to a recruiter.

5. Prepare your resume. You may want to prepare more than one version, depending on specific job objectives available that would fit your career plans. Make several copies of each version and give to appropriate recruiters at the fair.

6. Make sure you take a notebook for note taking and research.

7. Plan to wear appropriate attire. Dress as if you would be attending an interview. You need to make a good impression. Remember, you never know what will happen--you need to present a great image. Ask yourself, "Would you hire you? Why?"

8. Prepare in advance a list of questions to ask the recruiters. Since you have already gathered available information about the organization, use this opportunity to request more specific information about available postions; the training programs, and career paths within the organization.

Sample Questions you might ask:

.What positions are you recruiting for today?
.What special skills, education or work experience is required for this position.
.Are there training or mentoring programs in your company?
.Do you have summer jobs or internships?

At the Fair:
. Check in and register early. Orient yourself to the facility and location of the companies that interest you.
. Obtain a directory of employers and employer profiles. This can be very valuable to help you find your way around the facility.
. Check your appearance. Remember, first impressions count--even if you are just gathering information.
. Relax! you prepared for this event-now it's time to make a positive impression. Act as if you're confident.
. Conduct yourself professionally as you approach the interviewer. Respect other people's privacy as they speak with the organization's representative.
. As you approach the interviewer, establish eye contact, introduce yourself (use your prepared one minute script about yourself), present a firm handshake, and tell why you are interested in the company.

After The Fair:
. Read your notes while they are still fresh in your mind. Check the companies in which you are interested; key names and vital contact information.
. Follow up with thank you cards. Do not overlook this courtesy, especially if a recruiter was particularly helpful or you received a mini interview. Send each person you made contact with a thank you card with a note sharing your appreciation, and perhaps state a comment about your meeting with them. Tell them you are interested and will contact them periodically.
. Set up a system to keep track of follow-up activities (file cards, binders, folders, etc.).
. On the business cards you collected, jot down on the back of it anything you might want to remember about the person and/or the conversation you had for future follow up strategy.

Author's Bio: 

Marge Powers, founder and owner of Winning Ways has over 25 years experience in Human Resources, Recruitment, Career Management, Career Coaching, Skill Assessment Testing, Job Development and Life Coaching. Marge majored in Organizational Development at University of San Francisco. She is a Master Certified Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistics from the NLP Institute of California. She is Certified in Co-Active Life Coaching and Career Coaching from John F. Kennedy University. She has been responsible for successfully managing hundreds of careers for professionals at all levels. Marge has delivered many motivational seminars on job preparation, resume writing, networking, job search activities, relationship building, and communications. She has self published the following books. "Reclaim Your Power--A Guide to Having it All." "Tons of Tips for Career Predicaments." "What's Next? Design Your Future Lifestyle--55+ and Growing." See WebSite for more writing material. discoverwinningways.com