5 min read

The Insider's Guide to Military Job Fairs

December 16, 2023

For many individuals, moving from a career in the military to a civilian job can feel like navigating an unfamiliar landscape. The terminology, expectations, and typical career paths can all be decidedly different. A valuable resource that aids in this transition is a military job fair. To make the most out of these opportunities, this Insider's Guide to Military Job Fairs will give you the lowdown on what they are, how to prepare, and what to expect.

What is a Military Job Fair?

A military job fair, also known as a Career Expo, is an event designed to connect veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their spouses with potential civilian employers. The highlight of these events is that they cater specifically to the unique skillset that military personnel acquire and the challenges they experience during transition.

Benefits of Military Job Fairs

  • Networking: This is an opportunity to make contacts with HR managers, hiring executives, and even other transitioning military personnel.
  • Direct Access to Employers: Rather than trying to reach out to hiring managers through a medium, you get direct access to them at these events.
  • Multiple Opportunities: Typically, several employers attend these job fairs, which means you get to explore different industries and roles.
  • Immediate Feedback: You have the chance to interact face-to-face, engage in brief interviews, or sell your skills - all valuable chances to receive direct feedback.
  • Educational Workshops: Many military job fairs also conduct workshops on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and other career-oriented topics.

Preparation for a Military Job Fair

Now that you know what a military job fair is and what it offers, let’s delve into how to prepare to make the most out of this opportunity.


As Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Preliminary research is crucial:

  1. List the Companies: Find out the companies attending the fair and make a list.
  2. Understand Their Needs: Go through their websites, look at the job openings, and understand their needs. This shows you've done your homework during your conversation.
  3. Troubleshoot Your Skills: Align your military skills with their needs. This may need a bit of creativity, especially when translating military jargon to their civilian equivalent.

Preparation of Materials

You need to have your artillery ready:

  1. Resume: Make sure you have a polished, up-to-date, and well-formatted resume. If it's tailored to the specific companies and roles you're interested in, that's a plus.
  2. Cover Letter: Although not always required, a cover letter can add a personal touch and tell your story more comprehensively.
  3. Portfolio: If applicable, have a portfolio showcasing your work. It could be projects you led, campaigns you engineered, or equipment you maintained.
  4. Digital Footprint: Ensure your online profiles (especially LinkedIn) are up-to-date and mirror your resume.
  5. Business Cards: They offer a tangible reminder for hiring people you interact with.

Dress to Impress

Dressing appropriately for a job fair is vital. Business casual is usually suggested. Remember, first impressions matter.

During the Job Fair

Proper preparation will have you all geared up for the big day. Here’s what to remember during the job fair:

  • Arrive Early: This gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the layout of the fair and how the companies have positioned themselves. Plus, you have the highest chances of face-to-face time when the representatives are fresh.
  • Positive Body Language: Your non-verbal cues may be speaking even louder than your words. Showcase confidence with firm handshakes, maintain eye contact, and wear your best smile.
  • Elevator Pitch: You might have a 30-second window to impress the hiring representative and make them want to learn more about you. That's the power of a compelling elevator pitch.
  • Take Notes: Take notes during your interactions and ask for the representative's business card so you remember important discussions and have the details handy for follow-ups.
  • Ask Questions: Intelligent questions showcase your research, interest, and thought process, leaving a positive impression on potential employers.
  • Thank Them: Show your gratitude and appreciation by thanking the representatives for their time.

After the Job Fair

The job fair might be over, but your work is not. Follow-up actions are critical:

  • Send Thank You Notes: Send personalized thank you emails or letters to the employers you interacted with, preferably within 48 hours. Refer to the notes you took for relevant points.
  • Apply: If a job opening piqued your interest and matched your profile, don’t wait for the employer to get back to you. Apply for the position and mention your conversation at the job fair.
  • Continue Networking: Networking is a continuous process. Connect with the employers and representatives you met on LinkedIn.

A military job fair can be the springboard to a fulfilling civilian career, serving as a valued platform to showcase your military skills and achievements. By researching, preparing, and following professional protocols, you can make the most of these events. While the transition may feel overwhelming, remember, you were built to face and overcome challenges. This is just another mission, and with the right preparation, mission success is within reach!

December 16, 2023

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