Top 50 Women Forum’s Guide: 10 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Must Avoid at Employment Fairs

Written by Nada El-Margoushy

by Nada Khaled

On your quest to kickstart your career hunt, don’t forget that when your first impression is on the line, you don’t want to just wing it. You might think that carrying a conversation with recruiters and making a good first impression is simple, but think again. Statistically speaking, employers’ feedback about the quality of candidates indicates otherwise.

Many aspiring job seekers have wasted golden opportunities because they didn’t properly prepare before attending employment fairs. Listed below are some of the most common mistakes candidates make according to recruiters.

1- Presenting a weak/outdated resume

 Presenting an outdated or irrelevant resume to a potential employer has a negative impact not only on current job openings but also on your future opportunities with the company. Companies frequently keep appealing resumes on file for future job openings. Some companies keep resumes for up to two years! Presenting a resume that does not accurately articulate current skills and updated experiences may disqualify you from several excellent opportunities. 

2- Showing up Late

 Punctuality is one of the main aspects of maintaining professionalism, so avoid arriving late to the job fair. If you arrive too late, you may lose the ability to speak with certain people and feel rushed throughout the networking process. Making sure you arrive on time can help you make the most of your time at the event, avoid feeling stressed throughout the experience, and ensure you get to speak with all of the recruiters or employers from organizations that interest you.

3- Dressing unprofessional

 Business suits are the norm at job fairs. If you don’t have a suit, wear Dockers or black pants. It is advisable for men to avoid flashy ties, while women should wear closed-toe shoes and nylon hosiery. Keep your fingernails nice and clean, and empty your pockets. Don’t bring a big purse or backpack or wear too much makeup/accessories.

4- Not Doing proper research on the Employers

 To find out which companies will be attending the job fair, visit the hosting organization’s website and do a thorough research on these businesses. Doing this will give you a broader understanding of the qualifications they seek and determine whether an organization is a good fit for you or not. You might even be able to predict the names of the recruiters attending the event and research their backgrounds on LinkedIn, which, in turn, will give you an edge in having fruitful conversations.

5- Forgetting to obtain recruiters’ contact information

 Don’t forget to pick up a directory at the fair’s entrance or recruiters’ business cards. A fair directory will list the contact information for each organization at the event. You will also receive a name tag at the entrance, which you should preferably wear on your right side.

6- Being unprepared for a prompt interview

 At an employment fair, candidates must anticipate and be prepared to answer any recruiters’ questions. Research frequently asked questions and be ready with proper responses beforehand. Moreover, applicants should be ready to clearly present their strengths, weaknesses, and professional goals. You can go the extra mile by identifying several stories about situations or projects you’ve been a part of that best demonstrate your abilities to successfully complete the job. 

7- Loading Up on Giveaways

 Some attendees tend to do the “grab and dash”, where they load up on freebies. Don’t just grab the treats and trinkets offered at a booth and run away. There are plenty of potential employees who waste their energy and time on grabbing giveaways from every booth and deviate from the actual purpose of the job fair. 

 While it is perfectly acceptable to take promotional items since that is what they are intended for, failing to acknowledge the recruiter can leave a bad impression and appear disrespectful.

8- Failure to leave a good impression

 An employment fair revolves around first impressions. Most interactions at job fairs are brief, so you must put your best foot forward in a limited amount of time. People who are dressed inappropriately, have an unrehearsed elevator pitch, or appear disorganized almost always pass up significant possibilities. Make sure you appear neat and professional and practice a 30-second to 1-minute elevator pitch that tells an employer about your relevant educational experience, work experience, some key skills you bring to the table, and enthusiasm for the position without taking too much of their time. This way, you ensure a compelling interaction and the recruiters won’t lose focus during your prolonged speech.

9- Traveling in herds

 The best way to make good use of your time is to turn off your cell phone and work the room yourself. Walking around with a group of friends can cost you precious time and focus. Also, Do not be shy, introduce yourself, and avoid chewing gum.

10- Failure to follow up after

 As soon as you get home, write down notes on your conversations and list your favorite recruiters and the ones you think have a shot at. You can also compare the compatibility with your qualifications and the organization. Send a thank-you letter via email or regular mail within 24 hours of the fair to all your preferred employers. If requested, please provide any additional information.

Bonus advice: Remember to leave your contact information, a customized and updated CV to each specific employer, and preferably a personal statement that makes you stand out from other applicants.


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Top 50 Women Forum is the first platform in Egypt to work exclusively on empowering women professionals, with the purpose of strengthening their contribution development & decision-making processes.

Top 50 Women Forum is the first platform in Egypt to work exclusively on empowering women professionals, with the purpose of strengthening their contribution development & decision-making processes.