How To Make A Job Fair Work For You
Going to a job fair can be an overwhelming and intimidating event. However, they are great ways to learn about opportunities from employers who are hiring. While it may seem easiest to just go to a company website and apply for jobs, meeting people in person can give you a leg up over those who just apply online. So what can you do to stand out among the crowd? Just follow these tips.
Before You Go To The Job Fair
There are important things that you should do before attending a job fair. If possible, try to find out which employers are attending the fair. If you can obtain a list of attendees you can do some research to find out which employers may have opportunities that match what you are looking for. Out of all of the employers attending, make a list of your “top 10”. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t walk around and talk to those not on your list, but this way you can prioritize which employers you definitely want to talk to. Make sure you have looked into the employers on your list. Go to their website and find out more about them. What are their products and services? What job openings do they have listed? Who are their competitors? Where are they located? This gives you something to talk to them about and you’re sure to impress them when they see you have done your homework.
Since you are meeting people in person, first impressions count! Remember, you are competing against all of the other attendees. No employer will think someone is dressed too professionally. Professional attire includes wearing a suit. For men this is a matching suit jacket and pants, dress shirt and tie. For women, a suit jacket and matching pants or skirt and conservative top or blouse is considered professional dress. You can wear heels or flats but it’s smart to go with a low heel since you will be walking around. If you are unable to wear a full suit, business casual may be appropriate. This could be a sport coat or blazer. Even though you may never wear this attire on the job, you are showing that you are taking your job search seriously. Leave large bags or large purses at home.
The most important thing to bring to a job fair is your resume. Make sure you have put time into updating and proofreading your resume. Print multiple copies on a high quality paper. You should bring a nice folder or portfolio to carry copies of your resume and paper and a pen for notes. This is also where you can keep any material or business cards you receive. Keep your phone put away and off or on silent. You may also want to bring mints but avoid chewing gum.
During the Job Fair
When you arrive at the fair you will likely receive a listing of employers and possibly a map with a layout of the fair. Take a look at this list and mark your “top 10.” It can be helpful to warm up by talking to an employer that is not on your list. This gives you a chance to become more comfortable with the process before talking to your top employers.
You will want to have something we call a “30 second commercial” to introduce yourself. This is the introduction you will use when going up to each employer. You should be the one to reach out with a firm handshake and start the conversation. Your “commercial” should include your name and information about you including what type of work you do or experience you have had and any relevant education or certifications or licenses. Share with them what types of positions you are looking for. This gives them an idea of what positions they have available that may interest you. It’s helpful to think about and practice this introduction before the fair. During your conversation with employers you will also hand them a copy of your resume. Handing an employer a resume doesn’t mean you have officially applied for the job. You may be told to visit their website and apply for the jobs online. This doesn’t mean they are blowing you off. Today, it is common to accept official applications only online.
Many employers will have giveaways at their tables. Remember, the point of the fair is to look for employment, not to get free things. While it’s okay to take them, you don’t want to have your hands full as you are walking around and trying to shake hands with other employers. It may be best to leave some of the larger items on the tables.
Before ending your conversation make sure to find out the next steps with the company. This may be applying online or at their office. It’s also helpful to get the name and contact information of the representatives you spoke with. If you forget to do this at the fair it can be almost impossible to find it afterwards.
After the Job Fair
After the fair you want to make sure to make notes of any next steps to take or other important information. You’ll want to do this right after speaking to employers or right before leaving so you don’t forget anything. Make sure to take any steps recommended by employers. You may also want to send an email to the representatives you spoke with. Thank them for attending the fair, restate your interest in their company and let them know that you have followed their recommendation, such as applying for the position on their website. By connecting with the employer again you are taking initiative and keeping that connection.
It’s normal to be a little nervous about attending these events, but if you use these tips you will be well prepared. Remember, this is a great way to connect and network with employers. By presenting yourself as a well-prepared professional at a job fair you can stand out amongst the crowd!
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