Job fairs present a number of opportunities to meet and greet with potential employers and make contacts. While being hired may or may not happen, making connections with employees who already work for the company may be an opportunity for making an inroads for employment. When you are an older worker or changing fields there are a couple of things you need to remember when attending job fairs.
Have a plan
Come prepared with many copies of your resume and or business card but have a strategy. You know there are 50 employers and you have 2 hours, so try to go to employers targeted close to your resume. You may or may not be able to speak with each and every employer, so use your time wisely. Find out who will be presenting at the job fair first before you spend valuable time. Don't just jump from station to station, many recruiters can tell if you are serious or not, so give each recruiter thoughtful attention before you give out your resume.
Is this job fair directed towards recent college graduates or mid-level employees. Since most companies would prefer to hire those they've already employed, College fairs are aimed at those with the latest skills that are fresh out of college. To complete with those much younger than yourself can be difficult and harrowing if not prepared. Find out if the job fair targets your level of experience first. Don't waste time if you are looking for a higher level position.
Dress your age and level of experience
While there are many persons that recruiters see everyday, sticking out like a sore thumb may not be to your advantage. Dress in a manner appropriate for your level of experience and age, but make sure your clothing is not outdated and still correct for your field. If you are an older worker competing with younger workers, don't dress like a dinosaur, don't be intimated but dress your age and be confident.
Generally this may or may not be a big hiring day, but you can still research companies or find those willing to take on new employees on the spot. Larger companies may not be looking to fill key positions but stay optimistic. A company that needs entry level positions filled right away may be willing to hire you so don't ignore smaller organizations. Make key contacts with those in position at the company, get cards, and remember to follow up via email to remind recruiters of your interest in employment.
Don't go to a job fair expecting to get the managers position. Most high level positions are selected internally and require a long process so finding the exact position you want may not be possible. Even if you have the best resume, it is a process and hiring a stranger for a key position is not being practical. So while nothing is impossible, set your expectations realistically. If you need any job, and have been out of work for a while take what is available and remember it is possible to move up over time.
There are many resources in Maryland to obtain information about Career Fairs, check out the state government websites and local employment offices for dates and times. In addition, many colleges and universities in Maryland hold career fairs for job seekers, contact the schools career center to find out more information and if you eligible.