Job fairs – a big speed-dating festival for job seekers and employers seeking their “one and only” who will be a perfect match…
Here are some tips to get the most out of your next job fair:
1. Know what you want. As a job seeker, what kind of position do you wish to target? What kind of employer? Is that employer represented at this job fair? Find out by reviewing the ads for the fair – check out the sample companies represented at the job fair. Are they companies with whom you wish to work?
2. List and research all the companies where you wish to work. I recommend creating “cheat sheets” for each company listing the following: company name, space for contact info (get a business card from each booth you visit so you can follow up), one or two things you learned about the company from your research, and three questions you want to ask them at the fair. This helps you stay on track, targeting the companies of your dreams, and also enables you to follow up with recruiters at the fair. Only one in 300 people ever follow up, so be the one who stands out.
3. Dress professionally – just because recruiters are there doesn’t mean your attire can be sloppy, ill-fitting, and wrinkled. Recruiters get first impressions too. Make them good ones.
4. Be prepared for a brief interview. As a former recruiter who’s attended lots of job fairs, we often had positions to fill immediately and were able to interview job seekers at the fair in a sectioned off interview area. Many of the other companies at the event did so as well.
5. Have several CAR stories at the ready that demonstrate your ability to handle the job. CAR stands for “Challenge, Action, Result.” Since the majority of interviewers ask behavior-based interview questions, you want to be able to address them with specific examples of your expertise.
6. Bring along several copies of your current resume. (No typos please.) Even if it is a job fair that provides an electronic copy of candidates’ resumes to each booth at the fair, the candidate should have plenty of resumes with him or her. Instant gratification is never a bad thing. And you’re prepared, in case you get a chance to interview on the spot.
7. Smile. Just like dating, people are drawn to those who smile in a warm, friendly manner. And smiling keeps your attitude positive. As one HR manager told me, “I hire for attitude. You can always teach a skill.”
Now, go get ’em. And let me know how your next job fair turns out. Good luck!