Advice for attending a Coast-to-Coast Career Fair
The benefits of attending job fairs, including the networking opportunities, are paramount to securing employment with an organization for which you are a fit.
You have the opportunity to be exposed to, and to network with multiple organizations, in different fields that are recruiting for open positions. This eliminates a lot of guesswork in terms of who is hiring and what they are looking for. You are provided with the opportunity to meet with recruiters, hiring managers, and company representatives that are eager to answer any questions that you might have in mind. This forum allows the opportunity for both parties to confirm or eliminate possibilities for employment.
Potential employers are looking for a good fit, and you as the job seeker are looking for a good fit in an organization, other wise you won't be happy in the position, which means you most likely won't do well in the position. When people are happy with the work they do, and when they work for an organization they are proud to be a part of fully believing in the company philosophy and mission statement, you will be a productive member of a productive team. All of these things matter particularly if you are looking to become a part of an organization as a career.
The benefits of attending job fairs are so vast in that you not only have the opportunity to meet with multiple employers, but you get to engage in one on one conversation and make yourself stand out as a potential employee. Do yourself right by selling yourself right. Make the job fairs work for you. You never know one day you may be the one manning the booth for an organization, and providing the same service of showing someone the benefits of attending job fairs. Good luck.
Preparation is one of the most important things when it comes to attending career fairs. Employers will see hundreds of applicants during the course of the day, and if you are not prepared and do not meet the minimum expectations, you will be discounted quickly.
Much like a television commercial, prepare a brief, 30-second introduction of yourself to give to employers. Include:
- Your name
- Your career status
- What type(s) of position(s) you are seeking
- Why you chose their company (this is where your research comes in)
What to Wear:
It is always appropriate to wear professional attire to a Career Fair, regardless of the culture of the company you may be targeting. Career Fairs are designed as a professional networking tool, and you should always present your BEST and MOST PROFESSIONAL image. Be sure hair and nails are clean and well-groomed.
During the Fair:
- Respect the privacy of other job seekers who are speaking with recruiters. Do not interrupt unless you are invited to do so by the recruiter.
- Make eye contact and listen attentively.
- Be confident, and shake hands firmly.
- Ask questions about the company to maximize your time spent at the Career Fair. Don't just use it as a time to hand out as many resumes as possible. Take the time to do your own screening of companies.
- Gather business cards from everyone you speak with so that you can follow up with a thank you letter after the fair. In addition, ask the recruiters in attendance for the name of the hiring manager in the department you are interested in.
- Take a few moments to jot down notes about the recruiters and companies you spoke with to help you remember later.
After the Fair:
- Following up with recruiters after the fair is something that is often overlooked, and yet seen as polite and courteous to most employers.
- Write a thank you letter to each employer with whom you spoke at the fair. Letters should be sent no more than 24 hours after the fair and should include the following:
- Confirm your interest and enthusiasm for the company.
- Highlight your skills and assets that you feel would most benefit the company.
- Inquire about the next step in the selection process.
- Include your contact information.
- Follow up within a few weeks by calling or e-mailing the recruiter to see if you can meet with them again.
Employer Pet Peeves:
- Not dressing neatly or professionally
- Not bringing resumes or enough copies of your resume
- Not enough knowledge of a company
- Lacking interest in the company or job opportunities
- Asking about compensation
- Not asking any or enough questions
- Not making eye contact
- Lacking communication skills
- Not taking the time to fill out the job application when asked