As the economy is picking up, the unemployment rate has dropped to pre‐recession levels, employers are having a difficult time finding qualified employees. Whether you’re underemployed as a part‐time employee, want to advance your career or change companies, now is the time for you to get back in the job market.
Job fairs are an excellent way for you to meet multiple employers on the same day. However, there is advance preparation required on your part to stand out from the many jobseekers who will be attendance.
There are many types of job and career fairs — from ones scheduled on campus for college students to
industry‐specific ones for professionals —all have one common theme: it’s a chance for a company to meet and screen a large volume of potential job candidates.
Whether you’re a college student new to the job‐search process or a seasoned professional, the following strategies for jobseekers will improve your odds of not being screened out and should lead to a deeper level of satisfaction with your efforts and increase your chances of obtaining a second interview.
Job fairs are a small part of your overall job search strategy and one‐on‐one networking is still strongly encouraged. However, to be effective at a job/career fair, you gain insight into what companies are looking for and meet with company representatives face to face.
Strategies for Preparing for Career and Job Fairs:
- Pre‐register for the Fair ‐ not all fairs require pre‐registration, but those that do, it is always a good practice to pre‐register. Some also allow you to upload your resume online. This provides employers an opportunity to pre‐screen applicants and they may want to meet with you. This does not, however, guarantee that employers will notice you or that you’ll be invited to an interview. The burden is on you to make a connection with the company representative when you attend.
- Research Registered Companies & Employers ‐ Treat the job fair as if you were going for an interview and prepare by doing research on the company. Review the list of companies that will be participating in the fair and identify the ones with whom you want to meet.
Research the company and print out important points on the company’s leadership, their products and
services, if they have been recently merged or acquired other lines of business or developing any new
products or services. Do your homework and impress the company representative with your
knowledge about them—that is one way to stand out from other candidates.
- Have Multiple Copies of Your Resume ‐ Bring sufficient resumes to the fair — at least two for each company for which you have an interest and a few extras. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, make sure you bring enough of each version of your resume. More and more recruiters are simply bringing these collected stacks of resumes back to the corporate office and scanning them into a database. Resumes of today have to be able to screen through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). If your resume has not been recently revised, please contact us and we can help email@example.com.
- Consider Bringing Your Portfolio ‐ More and more career experts are emphasizing the importance of
career portfolios. These portfolios should include copies of your resumes, a list of references, and
samples of your best work. Portfolios are most relevant for professionals in the graphic and creative
arts, engineers, and inventors. Tablets have become more affordable so you might want to invest in one especially if you have images of your work. While most career fair interviews are fairly short, there
may be opportunities for discussing your portfolio with a recruiter — either over a short break or meal
or during a second interview on‐site. It is best to always be prepared no matter what happens.
- Develop a Positioning Statement ‐ You may only have two to five minutes to market yourself and having a positioning statement is very important which outlines your past experience, skills, education, and industries you have worked in and finally what kind of position you are looking for now. Many experts suggest that you develop a one‐minute “commercial” that highlights the key benefits that you can offer the organization — and then use it at the beginning of the interview.
- Wear Appropriate Attire ‐ Conservative business attire is essential, even for those Spring Break beachside career fairs because image and first impressions are critical. Know what is the expected attire of your profession and dress accordingly. It is always better to be overdressed than under‐dressed.
- Develop Fair Strategy ‐ You need to devise a strategy or plan of attack for the fair. You’ve already done the first step by researching the companies you are interested in. The second step is seeing if any new companies have registered when you arrive at the fair. The third step is surveying the layout of the fair and determining an order of interviewing. Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. But remember to stay flexible as your top choices may be the top choices of many, creating long lines that you may wish to avoid.
- Prepare for Interviews ‐ You may only have two to five minutes to market yourself and protect yourself from being screened out, thus you need to make the most of your time. Many experts suggest that you develop a one‐minute “commercial” that highlights the key benefits that you can offer the organization — and then use it at the beginning of the interview. Also remember the three keys to all interviews: make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and show enthusiasm. You should also prepare answers to interview questions just as you would any employment interview. The most common question you will face is something along the lines of “what are you here for today?” Seems like an easy question to answer, especially if you’ve done your homework and can tailor your answer to your interests and the company’s interests, thereby marketing yourself. Make sure you also have some questions ready to ask the interviewer. A great concluding question for you to ask is, “What do I need
to do to obtain a second interview with your firm?” Finally, make sure to avoid poor communication
bad habits, such as fidgeting, rocking, chewing gum, etc.
- Manage Intangibles ‐ There are several other things you can do to help make your career fair experience a success. First, don’t waste your time interviewing with companies you have no desire to work for; do make sure to interview with all the companies you do want to work for. Second, if you did not prepare for a company you want to interview for, try eavesdropping on several of the interviews ahead of you so you can better prepare; do also try to get some company literature from the booth before getting in line so you can read about the company while waiting; don’t just stand in line doing nothing. Third, do extend common courtesies, such as offering to get the recruiter a beverage or snack; don’t be upset if the recruiter has to take a break before your interview. Fourth, if your ideal company is hiring computer technicians and you want to work in accounting, do still interview with the company at the fair, being sure to leave the interview with the contact information of the person responsible for hiring in that area; don’t be discouraged and walk away.
- Network with Everyone at the Fair ‐ Career fairs are all about networking. Of course, you are building a network with the recruiters — this task is your most vital. However, you can also network with your fellow jobseekers in terms of sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles. There may also be professional organizations or employment agencies on hand at the fair, which are also good sources for networking.
- Follow‐up with All Key Recruiters ‐ Don’t take the order of this key to mean it to be the least important; in fact, some would say it is one of the most important. You would be surprised at how few jobseekers actually take the time to follow‐up their career fair interviews, thus when you do it, you will get an edge over the many others who do not.
There are two main methods of follow‐up:
Some experts suggest actually calling the recruiter the evening of the fair and leaving a voicemail
message thanking the recruiter again for his/her time that day. A more concrete and traditional
method is to write a thank you note and mail it the next day to the address on the recruiter’s business
card. In the letter, thank the recruiter for his/her time, restate your interest and qualifications for the position, reiterate your interest in a second interview, and make a promise to follow‐up the letter with a phone call (and then make sure you do in fact call). You probably should enclose another copy of
your resume to be sure.
Contact Hi‐Point Coaching for further assistance with your Career Transition
Our services include Career Coaching and Guidance, Resumes, LinkedIn Profiles, Cover Letters, Thank You Letters, Effective Networking and Interview Preparation.
626‐792‐3492 | firstname.lastname@example.org