Going to a teacher job fair is just like going to an interview; only you will talk with several school representatives instead of just one. Once you have arrived at a teacher job fair, the first thing a school will notice is how you present yourself.
Tips for a Successful Teacher Job Fair Experience
Treat a job fair like a job interview regarding dress. You do not have to dress strictly in business attire. Use taste and follow a business-casual dress code. For men, a pair of slacks and a collared shirt will suffice.
For women, the attire should be something as neat and straightforward as a formal blouse and skirt. Stay away from anything too short, too tight, or too revealing. Choose a pair of shoes you feel comfortable standing and walking for a sustained period.
You don’t want to ruin an otherwise great first impression because your feet are in pain. If you dress as you would for the classroom, potentially administrators will first look at you as your authentic professional self.
Have Copies of Your Resume Ready
Before you go to the job fair, pack a folder or briefcase with the following items:
- Several copies of your resume (plan to have at least one copy for each employer you plan to visit, plus a few extra copies for new connections you might meet at the fair). A targeted resume is better, but it isn’t easy to hand them out to many hiring representatives.
- A general cover letter summarizes your experiences without focusing too specifically on a specific employer or opportunity (pack as many cover letters as you do resumes to ensure that any employer you meet receives both).
- A list of references with updated contact information.
- Questions you have prepared for each employer you hope to connect with, plus some general questions for new contacts.
- A way for potential employers to get in contact with you, such as a business card containing your personal email address and phone number, your LinkedIn contact information, and other relevant details.
- A pen and paper for taking notes as needed.
Take Your Time
Take your time when you are approaching schools’ representatives. A job fair is not a race, so dropping your resume off at as many booths as possible without taking the time to have some conversation with the schools will not help you make a lasting impression.
Your goal is to make a positive, memorable first impression on the schools where you are most interested in working, so try to go to booths that are not crowded first. Strike up a conversation when you get a representative’s attention and ask the questions you have prepared.
It’s tough to go up to someone who is overwhelmed with a group of people and strike up a one-on-one conversation.
If your goal is to meet with a particular school and its representatives are swamped with candidates the first time you see their table, make a loop of the area where the fair is located.
Touch base with another contact on your list, and check back to see if the line has quieted down so that you can approach them and have a more significant conversation. Aim for that one-on-one contact so that you are remembered.
Research Ahead of Time
If you can, get a list of the schools that will be present at the job fair. Most job fairs will provide this information to applicants at the time of registration. You will appear more confident and knowledgeable to a prospective school if you have researched their mission, values, and the students they serve.
Be prepared to ask simple but specific questions about the school. Don’t use generalized conversation. Address the person about the position that is of interest. In doing so, not only will you sound more confident, enthusiastic, and professional, you will also leave a better impression on the school.
Maintain Good Eye Contact and be Polite
Showing confidence through a firm handshake and steady eye contact is a way to quickly convey the message that you have a confident and strong personality. A strong personality can sometimes compensate for a weaker skill you may have.
Be considerate and honest during the conversation. Maintain good manners and attentiveness as these are signs schools will look for.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to make eye contact, you can begin to work on your eye contact by watching the space between the person’s eyes to whom you are speaking. You’ll be looking directly at them, which will help you project a confident, engaged posture, plus it will appear as though you are looking them in the eyes if you are feeling nervous and not comfortable taking that step.
Don’t Waste Time
When schools send representatives to a job fair, they find high-quality candidates to teach at their schools. Do not waste a hiring representative’s time if you are not serious about finding a teaching job with them.
When you make contact, follow through with a call or email as promised. Make sure you get a business card so you know how to get in touch with the school. Be sure to ask what the institution’s timeline for hiring new teachers looks like so you know when to expect to hear back from them regarding future hiring process steps.
It is acceptable to call again in a week or two if you do not hear back from them. Develop a feasible job search plan to secure the job of your dreams.
Are you preparing for a teacher job fair and looking to know exactly how to respond to the questions that potential employers will ask?