What to Say - and What Not to Say - to an Employer
at a Job Fair

Five Things to Say to an Employer at a Job Fair

1. What skills does your company need the most? Ask a question or two that focuses on what the company needs, and think about how your skills and experience could fit.

2. My background is in high-volume customer service in several industries. When you talk about your experience, make it short, and be clear about your strengths – recruiters usually won’t have more than a minute or two to talk with each person.

3. It looks like you don’t have any positions open right now that would be a fit with what I’m looking for, but I’m really interested in your company, so please keep me in mind for future opportunities. They may have more jobs opening up - show your interest in them, and be open to future possibilities. And be sure to follow up!

4. Would you mind if I take a copy of the job description for this position? It’s not what I’m looking for, but I know a few people with that background. This not only shows you’re willing to help fellow job seekers and to network, but when you share job leads, others will probably do the same for you.

5. Do you have a business card? Make sure you get the recruiter’s contact info (including the correct spelling of their name if they don’t have a card), so you can follow up.

Five Things NOT to Say to an Employer at a Job Fair

1. I know I’m wearing sweats, but that shouldn’t matter - I have many skills. Maybe in a perfect world, no one would ever judge anyone on their appearance. In the real world, regardless of your skills, it’s important to dress professionally and have a neat, clean appearance (and no heavy perfume or makeup!) if you want an employer to take you seriously as a candidate.

2. Who are you? I’ve never heard of you people. Yes, we actually heard someone say this to an employer! Besides being rude, not knowing about the company shows you didn’t do your homework. Always research the companies before coming to a job fair.

3. I would have been here earlier, but my toilet overflowed. Be sure to arrive more than an hour before a job fair closes – it doesn’t make you look too good to run in 10 minutes before the end, and some employers leave a little early. And, of course, the employers don’t need to know about your plumbing or other personal catastrophes.

4. I haven’t worked for a long time, so I’m pretty much open to anything. Not only does this make you sound desperate, which is a big turn-off for employers, but you also need to be clear on the type of job you’re looking for that matches your skills.

5. I’d rather not send my resume electronically. Can I just give you a paper copy? If it were still 1995, you could. In 2016, you need to use email or do an online application. Most employers prefer to communicate with candidates by email, and almost all businesses use an online application system. You want to make it easy for your resume to be included in their online files.