Excited about an upcoming job fair but not sure what to take? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a checklist of everything you need to impress recruiters and land that dream job.

There’s never been a better time to be a job seeker. The economy is growing, employers are hiring and in-person job fairs are back after their COVID-era hibernation.

But if you’re going to a job fair, what should you take apart from a positive attitude and a bag for your swag? Don’t leave home without these six things.

1. more resumes than you need

You may think everything a recruiter needs to know about you is covered on your LinkedIn page, but most of the people you meet at job fairs will want a paper resume. How many should you take? Estimate how many recruiters you want to talk to, double that number and then set your printer to work.

Stash your resumes in a document folder for easy access — you don’t want to be rummaging through a tote bag in the middle of a conversation.

Finally, bring tailored resumes if you want to explore different career paths at the same fair. For example, you can have a resume for seasonal or contract opportunities and another for permanent positions, each emphasizing the skills and experience appropriate to the type of role. Color code your resumes so you don’t end up handing the wrong one to the wrong person.

2. a polished elevator pitch

Job fairs are fast and furious, with hundreds of candidates and recruiters vying for each other’s attention. To improve your chances of making meaningful connections, be prepared to introduce yourself, your skills and your career objectives within 30 seconds. Rather than rehearsing your pitch in front of the mirror, ask a trusted colleague or friend if you can practice with them.

3. a stash of business cards

You want to make it as easy as possible for recruiters to continue the conversation with you after the job fair. Hand them a business card, and they’ll have all your details in a single, convenient location.

When customizing your card, include everything a recruiter needs to know — and that’s it. Name, job title and contact details? Need to know. TikTok username and favorite inspirational quote? Don’t need to know.

If you create a digital business card — and there are plenty of free apps that make it easy — make sure your digital details match your paper-based ones.

4. research cue cards

It’s happened to every job fair attendee. You spend hours researching a company so you can dazzle the recruiter with your knowledge of their new product line. Then, in the heat of the moment, your mind goes blank.

Give yourself a fallback option by noting down key points — general research on companies you’re interested in, plus specific things to highlight with your top prospects — on pocket-sized cards. Recruiters won’t mind if you consult these when needed. In fact, they’ll be impressed that you’ve done your homework and come prepared.

5. a notebook

You’ll also want to do some research at the fair. Don’t assume that everything you need to know will be printed out on leaflets or stowed away in swag bags. That’s the official stuff  — but a lot of the most interesting conversations at job fairs happen off the record. Perhaps a recruiter doesn’t have an opening for you right now but does have some insider tips on climbing the career ladder or knows a colleague who could help you. Have a small and manageable notebook handy to write this information down.

6. a change of clothes

Coffee spills happen — and you don’t want to spend half your day apologizing for them. Packing a just-in-case shirt or blouse will give you peace of mind.

Now that you’re packed and prepared, why not master the art of making a great first impression at job fairs? Read our blog on how to create your personal job seeker elevator pitch.