Ten Things to NOT do at Job Fairs (for Candidates)

In my career I’ve done a lion’s share of job fairs.
While they seem “old fashioned” they are still (imo) the best way to get in front of employees, to find out what the market looks like, and be able to network. Employers show up with signage, free trinkets, and a smile trying to entice potential candidates to work for them. 
Unfortunately, I’ve seen some job seekers do some truly stupid things at job fairs. Perhaps it’s lack of knowledge, perhaps it’s lack of caring (or both) – reality is, at a job fair you’re being interviewed. So beware.
Here’s a few things that I’ve witnessed at job fairs that really need to stop: 
  1. Don’t bring your baby or kids. 
    It’s tough to find a sitter, I get it. But it’s a distraction and also can be a red flag for an employer that you’ll have difficulty with childcare. 
  2. Don’t wear slippers/house shoes. 
    This just shows that you don’t care. When you’re at a job fair you’re essentially being interviewed. Employers are less likely to take you seriously if you can’t take the time to get dressed properly. 
  3. Never ever under any circumstances utter the words: “I just need a job” or “I’ll do anything.”
    While it may seem a great answer as to your work ethic, what it really shows me is that you don’t care. You’re just looking for a job, any old job will do. I don’t want to hear that. I want to know your aspirations. What you enjoy. What you’re good at. What type of job do you want?
  4. Don’t show up stoned/drunk/drugged up. 
    Dilated eyes. Talking too closely. Slurred words. And we all know that “familiar smell.” We can tell when someone is three sheets to the wind. Stay home, sleep it off. 
  5. Don’t wear platform high heels or strappy heels that you’d wear to a club.
    Perhaps I’m a prude. Perhaps I’m too conservative. But when ladies walk around wearing platform heels it seems a) uncomfortable and b) makes me question your dress code at the office. I don’t want to be distracted by your high heals, I’d much rather be impressed by your qualifications, not your heels. 
  6. Don’t attend with your Mom/Dad/Spouse.
    Perhaps they came with you because they are looking for a job, or maybe as moral support. That’s fine, but if they are following you around, making the first impression and then introducing you as “This is my son and he’s looking for a job…” – that’s not a good sign. Acquire the proper techniques to introduce yourself and for crying out loud learn how to shake a hand. Mom and Dad can’t baby you forever. 
  7. Don’t show up in your other job’s uniform.
    I get it. You just got off your shift and you’re looking for another job. But this is just poor form… and even more so if that same employer is at the job fair. It’s a reflection of “bad judgment” and we want people who think tactfully and have a certain amount of decorum.
  8. Don’t talk to much or hoard the attention of the employer.
    There’s some serious chatty-Kathys at these events. While I’d love to chit chat with you about how you were on the Olympic swim team in Canada and are hoping to move back there to start a youth swimming pool (true story) – I have more candidates to talk to. They also want/need my attention. I’m here working too, so take the time to get personal and then move along once you’ve got the next steps for applying with my company. It’s a red flag about your ability to understand social cues. 
  9. Don’t ask “How much does it pay?”
    Similar to #3 above. This means that all you care about is a paycheck and that you’ll go to the highest bidder. Perhaps that’s the case – but employers know those aren’t good, long-term, hard-working employees. Employees who are bottom dollar driven end up being the complainers in the office, the ones who nit-pick everything, and become job hoppers. It’s a red flag.
  10. Don’t say “I don’t want to…”
    While perusing around the job fair if you come across a industry/vendor – watch what you say. Perhaps delivering pizzas isn’t something you want to do, but vendors can hear you and guess what? Most of us are in recruitment/HR and we also change jobs too. If I recognize you as the guy who said “Ain’t no way I’m doing that!” and then you just happen to be in my interview chair later on… sucks for you. 
Tune in next week for Ten Things to NOT do at Job Fairs (for Employers).

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