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The Five “A’s”: What You Should Know Before Your First Job Fair

Every prosperous career starts with a good first impression.

To help you make one, here are a few “A+” pointers for acing your first job fair.

Job fairs can be daunting, especially the first time around. But they are excellent opportunities to form connections and learn more about prospective employers.

Appearance matters. Tennis superstar Andre Agassi is famous for saying in a commercial for the Cannon Rebel camera, “Image is everything.” It’s true. When you attend a job fair dressing professionally is a crucial component of the way you’re perceived. While specific events or companies may provide a dress code, business casual attire is always a good option. Modest dresses and skirts or slacks with a blouse and flats or low heels for women and dress pants or khakis with a button up and a sport coat and loafers for men are safe bets. Ensure that your clothes fit well and are wrinkle free, and that your shoes and any bags you carry are clean. Remember, you should feel comfortable sitting, standing, and walking.

Ask questions. What does the job entail? What will I be doing? What hours will I be working?  How much does the job pay? How would you describe the company’s culture? There are so many questions on the table. So, be curious and don’t be afraid to ask. Curiosity not only allows you to be clear about the standards and expectations of your new job, but it can also set you apart from other applicants. If you are unsure about any information, identify an appropriate point of contact and an appropriate time to introduce yourself and ask for clarification. Be brave and speak up – asking questions shows you care enough about a company and position to fully understand it. 

Attentiveness is key. Whether this means making eye contact, nodding your head, or taking notes with a pen and pad, it is important to show that you are focused on the information being relayed. Be sure you are well-rested so you are mentally alert and present. Avoid distractions and interruptions by putting your devices on silent mode. Do your best to listen and be fully engaged in your conversations. The Golden Rule applies to job fairs, too: treat the representatives and presenters with the same respect you’d want to be treated with if you were in their position.

Communicate afterwards. Collect business cards or take down the phone numbers and emails of people you speak to. Don’t be afraid to reach out post-fair with words of thanks or follow-up inquiries. This, like asking questions, shows that you are competent and comfortable interacting with your peers. Job fairs can be an early opportunity to establish a rapport with your potential employer and standing out in positive ways – like continuing communication – is a surefire way to do so.

Attitude makes all the difference. An open mind and a positive outlook will take you far. A pleasant disposition makes you easier and more enjoyable to interact with and can even influence those around you. Stress can be difficult to avoid at work, and even more so in nursing and other medical careers. But an ability to balance lightheartedness with motivation and dedication tells employers that you have a lot to offer their workplace.

The Five “A”s are a few of the many strategies that can help you make a great first impression. Above all, relax, be confident in your abilities and proud of yourself for taking the first step on the path toward a successful career. Just think Appearance, Ask, Attentiveness, Afterwards, Attitude, and you will be amazing at your first job fair!

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