7 Tips for Veterans Attending a Job or Career Fair
Job Fairs are big business. There are thousands held annually across the U.S. and each hold awesome opportunities for job-seekers. If you’re a Veteran searching for your next career, and plan on attending a job or career fair soon, these seven tips will help you make the most of your time with employers.
1. Attire - what to wear … and what not to
You’ll see varying styles of dress at every job fair. We suggest waiting for the actual interview to wear a suit. We recommend business casual for job fairs. Many employers have become more accepting of tattoos, but it’s best to cover them if possible. Tattoos, extreme or “loud” hair color and piercings (other than on your ears - and then, one pair only) can be distracting to potential employers. You want them to remember your resume and qualifications, not your appearance.
2. Registration - yes, you should register in advance
If given the option, always register in advance. For many job fairs, employers pay to participate and in exchange, get early access to the resumes of all the registered participants. If for some reason you can’t make it to the job fair, many employers or hiring managers will still see your resume.
3. Resume - bring lots of copies
Bring a resume for each company you are interested in. Some companies will take your resume in person and some will direct you to their website. Do not worry about a cover letter at this point. If you can’t access a list of employers attending the job fair, we suggest bringing 20 hard copies of your resume, just to play it safe. If possible, bring business cards to have on hand in case you run out of copies of your resume. Be sure to also bring a pen and paper for notes. Writing a little note down after each booth will help your remember the employer and conversation.
4. Research - find out more before you go
Do some research on the companies you are interested in. Companies like it when job fair participants have done their homework. Companies want to know why you want to work for them and how you would be an asset to their team. A little bit of research beforehand will help you prepare for any company-specific questions they might ask.
5. What to Say - start first
Instead of waiting for employers or hiring managers to ask you questions, we suggest engaging the employer by introducing yourself, letting them know what you’re looking for and asking them questions. A little bit of research before the job fair will go a long way in helping you ask questions that show your interest. Be careful not to use military jargon they might not understand; assume everyone you meet has never been in the military. Also, treat this like a first date: no politics or religion.
6. Learn - the takeaways are priceless
Learn what you can from this. You do not have to do a full on AAR, but be mindful of what you have learned and how it can be used in the future. What parts of the job or career fair did you find difficult and how can be better prepared or make it easier next time?
7. Enjoy - you deserve it
We know this might sound strange, but try to enjoy the experience. You have worked very hard and sacrificed much to get to here! Try to think of the experience as a fun opportunity where you can meet new people who you can learn from.
p.s. Turn off your cell phone! There’s nothing more distracting than a ringing or buzzing phone going off in the middle of a conversation - that’s not what you want an employer to remember.
Are you a Veteran who wants to make sure your resume is ready for an upcoming job fair? Need some help preparing for interview questions employers might ask? Still Serving Veterans can help! We have a team of expert career counselors who can talk with you on the phone or meet with you via skype, HighFive or other video conference call service. All of our services are free to Veterans and every career counselor is a Veteran (whose experienced looking for a career after military service!).
*Still Serving Veterans’ services are only available to transitioning service members, Veterans, members of the Guard and Reserves.
If you’d like to connect with a counselor, fill out the form below and a career counselor will contact you within 24-48 business hours.