It can represent a nerve-racking experience, a kind of nightmare version of speed dating (as if speed dating wasn’t nightmare enough). But despite the inherent awkwardness that comes with approaching a succession of strangers to ask for employment, the job fair offers an excellent opportunity to crack open your job search.

The venue allows you to meet with multiple employers in a short period. You’re also able to interact with them personally, giving you the ability to sell yourself more directly then you could with a cold and impersonal application.

However, it takes some preparation to make the optimal impression. Don’t show up empty-handed. Here are four must-bring items that will make your job fair experience a success:

A Professional Demeanor

Just because it includes the word “fair” in its name, don’t confuse a job fair with what kind of place where you munch on corn dogs and ride the Ferris wheel. It’s not a casual experience.

You attend the job fair for professional reasons. Therefore, treat it professionally. This includes wearing the right clothes, which means dressing as if you’re going to an interview. It also involves carrying a positive attitude throughout the experience (no matter what response you get from individual employers).

Resumes

It’s the basic tool of the job fair. Your resume represents your main form of communication with potential employers. It documents your skills and experiences, and it represents the main physical item you’ll leave with the people you hope will hire you.

Make sure you have lots of copies of an up-to-date resume. You might want to bring multiple versions. These will help you target specific skills for particular opportunities. Keep different folders with different resumes in a binder, so you can hand employers the one best suited to their needs. It will help you put your best foot forward.

Access to a Portfolio of Work Samples

Employers want to see practical examples of what you can offer. Resumes represent the promise of good work. A portfolio represents proof.

However, while you want to show some practical samples of your work, these don’t have to be presented as a physical paper portfolio. These portfolios can get cumbersome to lug around. Also, some types of work don’t translate well to physical form, things like websites or videos. For these, you can bring a tablet, or some other similar device, preloaded with digital copies of your work

A Refined Elevator Pitch

The job fair offers you the opportunity to meet lots of potential employers in a short period. However, you won’t get much of a chance with any of them. You’ll have to make your presentation quickly.

Unlike a formal interview, where there’s time for some back and forth, you’ll have to sell yourself in a relatively short burst. Time to break out your elevator pitch. Craft a short presentation of your best skills and deliver it as needed to make your case. Hopefully, they will remember you after the fair is over, and your resume can help seal the deal.

Job fairs offer an excellent opportunity to expand your job search. Another great option? Using a staffing firm. A top-ranked recruiter, like SmartTalent, can quickly put you into the perfect placements to drive your long-term career development.

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.