Thinking of changing your job or even applying for your first job? If you already know the kind of job you want then you may be scanning newspapers and journals for vacancies. If you are looking for your first full-time job following the end of your studies then maybe you are not sure what you want to do yet.

Have you thought of job fairs? Maybe you have attended one in the past and found them not so helpful. Well do not dismiss them too quickly. If you go in prepared they can be excellent for helping you identify and make contact with the right people. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

Job fairs give you, the potential employee, a chance to find out more about companies. Companies want to attract the best candidates and will therefore be showcasing themselves and presenting themselves in the best light possible. They may be offering career prospects, salary scales and benefit packages which they may not offer during a normal recruitment process.

Job fairs are also an opportunity for you, the potential employee, to showcase your qualifications, education, experience, skills and abilities too. Therefore make sure that you go in with several copies of your latest resume/CV.

Make sure you try and attend as many stalls as possible and speak to one of the company's employees so that they remember you. To make yourself more memorable to them you need to ask intelligent and relevant questions. You might feel nervous and think 'oh my god, don't know what to ask!' The best question you can start off with is to ask what the company's mission and vision is. A second, powerful question to follow that is then to ask what kind of candidates the company is looking for to help it achieve its mission and vision.

This second question will give you a clear idea of the kind of potential employees the company is looking for and you can then flag up any relevant skills or abilities you have that would be useful to the company. Even if you do not think you would ever work for that company do still go through this information gathering and highlighting your relevant experience process. This is preparing you for the interview stage. Attend and speak to as many company delegates as you can and ensure you leave them a copy of your resume/CV.

It is important to dress smartly for the job fair. Yes, it is not an interview as such but remember first impressions count and if potential employers see your smart side they are likely to think you are serious in your job hunting and not just whiling away the time. Go as if you are going for an interview. Who knows, some company may be so impressed by you that they may want to assess you straight away and make you a job offer on the spot!

By the end of your job fair visit you should have handed out your resumes to many companies and also collected lots of information about the various companies themselves. When you are invited for an interview by one of these companies, this information will help you prepare for that interview. You will also feel less nervous at the interview having met and talked to the delegates at the job fair.

Also, by the end of your job fair visit you will also have compared the different companies and begun to identify the kind of employment environment you want to work in and, very importantly, you will have also surveyed the market-place so that you are then able to assess how valuable your skills are and what companies are prepared to pay for them. This helps you in negotiating the pay package! Even if you decide to stay on in your existing job, your visit to the job fair will have helped you understand and value your own skills and abilities, and also given you an indication of how to develop yourself further to make yourself even more valuable to your employer.

Wishing you much good luck in your job search.