“I don’t always attend a job fair but when I do, I handshake everyone in the event.” - Anonymous

Have you ever attended a job fair? Wikipedia defined job fair (also referred to as career fair or career expo) as speed dating for companies and job seekers. It is an event in which employers, recruiters, and schools give information to potential employees.

Attending a job fair is both fun and exciting. You see many professionals and you find many job openings. There is also a possibility that you will be hired on the spot.

Who Should Attend a Job Fair?

All applicants are welcome to attend job fairs considering that the event open opportunities to all professionals in different industries; however, I think fresh graduates will mostly benefit from job fairs because they will gain experience and knowledge from the event.

Professionals who seek employment in call center industry should also attend job fairs because call center companies are mostly present during job fairs. Sometimes call center companies organize the event because they are looking for competent candidates who have flair for English language and those who have great interpersonal skills.

How I Benefited from the Job Fair I Attended

I had a great experience from the job fair I attended last June 2013 at Tacloban City Astrodome when I was just starting my career. In the event, I found many companies looking for potential candidates but GoAbroad was the company that intrigued me. Although it was the first time I encountered of GoAbroad, the jobs they have posted are the positions that I want— Graphic Designer, Blogger, and SEO Content Writer.

Because I have the basic skills in Photoshop and InDesign and I have an international-standard resume, I was interviewed by their hiring manager. GoAbroad’s hiring manager is a fast-talking 30 to 40-year-old Filipina with an intimidating fluency in English. I did not ask for her name because I was so shy. Well, a starter’s mistake. Before the interview began, I was so nervous because I do not know what questions will be asked.

The hiring manager asked me series of questions about my resume and my qualifications. She also asked me if I am a blogger, if I know Photoshop and if I know SEO. I cannot remember the exact answers I responded to the questions but as far as I know I have impressed her because she invited me to their second applicant screening—the pre-employment examination to be taken at their main office.

When I got home, I searched for their company online and I found out that GoAbroad is an international company. They partner with international schools and companies and advertise them in their site. Their employees create blog posts and create impressive graphics for their clients. They also plan, design and build websites.

The next day, I went to their office by following the direction given to me by the hiring manager. Their office is hidden from the busy streets and is like a residential office. At first I could not understand why, but when I went inside, I got the whole point. They have a very modern workplace—designed to make their employees feel like they are working at home. I was there together with other applicants—local bloggers and newly graduates—to take the pre-employment exam.

The hiring officer showed us their workplace first, to motivate us to do our best. They have a mini-gym and a mini-bar and their workplace is compartmentalized for the services that they do—graphic designing, web designing, blogging and other techie services that they do.

After the tour, we took the examination. The exam was composed of English language proficiency questions, grammar questions and an essay, a total of 110 points. After the examination, the hiring manager told us that the best applicants will be called for the next step. Unfortunately, I was not called but I learned a lot from that experience.

By the time of the examination, I was just a newbie, I didn’t know the meaning of SEO. It was only after the examination that I learned search engine optimization and I got the whole picture of what they do. I learned deeper about their industry and that was the time I kept learning about WordPress and the hidden gems in blogging.

If I did not went to that job fair, I would not have known anything about blogging and the different services that I can do to my clients today. It was a memorable and life-changing experience.

Why You Should Attend a Job Fair

Apart from getting the chance of being hired on the spot, here are other reasons why you should attend a job fair:

1. Same-minded professionals are present in job fairs. Professionals under your desired industry are there. During job fairs, you get the chance to meet them, introduce yourself and offer your business card to them. You can even take note of their name and add them to your professional network on LinkedIn.

2. You will find out if your resume is effective. Submitting your resume to hiring officers during job fairs will let you know if your resume is effective or not. If it does, good for you but if it doesn’t, you need to improve your resume. Here are some common resume mistakes that are hindering your chance in getting that job.

3. You will know what’s new in your industry. When you attend a job fair, you will discover new job leads and in-demand jobs under your industry. You will see new opportunities that you can only find when you attend a job fair.

4. You practice answering interview questions. Interview questions vary by industry and by attending a job fair, you will discover the common questions asked for your desired position. If you are not hired at first, you improve your chance by preparing for the interview the next time you apply.

5. You get to make friends. I am not a communication starter, but because applicants in the job fair I attended have the same goal as I do—to get a job—I made few friends in the event. I even enjoyed communicating with other applicants during the process of the job fair recruitment.

6. You get to see companies looking for employees. It is pretty obvious but apart from your personal need to be employed, if you have friends who need a job and you think are qualified for the position, you can inform them about the job opening.

7. You can exercise your communication and interpersonal skills. During job fairs, you get the chance to meet different people—people that could be a part of your professional network throughout your career. This is why you must communicate with other applicants and if possible, exchange business card with them.

8. You practice being an adult professional. You get the chance to manage your time and compete with other applicants. Being an employee demands your time-management skill and of course, every once in a while, you get to compete with other professionals.

9. You will face challenges. Other things that you will enjoy in attending a job fair are the challenges that you will face in the process. Challenges like your grooming or appearance, focus, social graces, traveling time, and handling tough interviewers are just few of the things that you will face during job fairs. At the end of the day, you will discover your weaknesses and you get to adapt and improve them as you go along.

10. You learn from your mistakes. Job search—especially during job fair is like a game and the more you try, the more you will learn. The more you practice, the better your chances in improving and getting your desired job.

As a final take, I will inform you that attending a job fair is exhausting. But at the same time, I guarantee that you will learn many things from the experience and the information that you will gain from job fairs. It might even change your life. Who knows? Are you ready? Go attend a job fair.

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