Finding Your Next Job at a Veterans Career Fair

Attention, veteran job seekers: a career fair provides an opportunity to gain knowledge about companies and careers in your area that may interest you. In addition to finding employment, career fairs offer a great networking opportunity. And visiting every booth will increase your chances of finding a job. How?

##**Fish in A Barrel:**##

Career fairs are the most efficient way you can interact with dozens of employers and decision makers within the span of a few hours. Just imagine how long it would take you to connect with that many leaders on your own!

##**Have a Plan:**##

Every military mission has a plan, and successfully attending a career fair should be no different. See who’s attending, and make a list of the top 10 companies that most interest you. Then go deeper. Spend more time on each of those websites, see what their culture is like, and learn about their core values. This will allow you to ask smarter questions and maximize your time with the recruiter. If you can speak to their core values, it shows that you are conscientious, organized, and proactive.

**However, don’t speak to your Top Ten first!** Give yourself a chance to warm up. Get the butterflies out by speaking to five or six companies that may be second tier for you. It will give you a chance to practice your introduction and ask questions. Plus, you are forcing yourself to talk to more companies that way. And, the results from those encounters may surprise you.

##**Employment Where You Least Expect It:**##

Yes, a recruiter may have gone to a career fair looking for people to fill certain spots, or with certain skill sets in mind. But, many companies have needs that are wider than what they specifically come to an event to find. That’s why it’s important to keep an open mind and stop by each booth. A grocery chain may need an accountant, a defense contractor may need a chef, and educational institutions may be seeking admissions counselors, or military relations specialists. Have an advanced degree? They may even be seeking adjunct professors.

##**Interview Practice:**##

Searching for a job is not a natural thing to do. And the only way to get better at anything that is unnatural is practice. Think of all the interaction you get at a career fair. Use it as practice for an interview where it will really count. That way, when you do land an interview, you’ll be ready to shine.

##**Networking Benefits:**##

Attending lots of career fairs and hitting each booth provide a great opportunity to broaden your network. If you’re standing in line to speak to a recruiter, look at it as an opportunity to meet your fellow vets. Exchange contact information. Follow up with them. Even take the time to send job leads to them that may not be for you. After all, you never know the person who will connect you to your next career.