Prepare for Battle: Career Fair Tips

If you make the right moves, you should leave a career fair with plenty of job prospects--along with plenty of free pens.

Sure, everyone has a different approach, a unique style when it comes to job seeking. But in this case, take it from the pros and stick to the script.

Step one: Prepare for battle.

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Justin Kaplan, president of, outlined the basic steps one should walk when attending these fairs, no matter who is hosting, no matter the venue. As casual a setting it might be, by all means, take it seriously.

Kaplan emphasized the importance of these massive gatherings to companies who exhaust vital resources to get the same return Joe Jobseeker wants. It's about finding the right fit for both parties. While a huge company such as say, Microsoft, won't send a hiring manager to scope out talent, the recruiter in attendance holds just as much power in this instance. Work him.

How to do it?

"Always look engaged," Kaplan said, calling on every career-fair attendee out there. "Everyone is preparing for this event and a recruiter is making sure you look professional."

The look he's talking about goes for the business suit you should be wearing and the handshake, which should be firm. Also, digest every bit of information you have about the companies in your sight before the fair. That way you can talk about industry trends, their goals and your goals.

Target Job Fairs is a company that'll provide you with plenty of chances to practice. TJF has been producing career fairs in the United States for 27 years and hosts between 90 and 100 events annually, featuring as many as 75 companies at each event.

TJF General Manager Bob Westerkamp stressed the importance of preparation, saying that more than 80 percent of companies peruse resumes in advance, sometimes before they post a job or showcase their business at a fair. That makes it tough to get a step ahead of the recruiter and easy to get nervous.

Westerkamp offered another tip: "Go to company XYZ, use them as practice to get your confidence level up," he said. "Then talk to company you want."

It's that simple.