Job fairs can be the perfect setting for you to network, meet potential employers, and find job opportunities. But how do you get real results from them? Follow some simple rules and you could turn that event into employment!
Choose the right one. If you’re plugged in (like you should be) to all the networking events available to people like you looking for a new career, you probably read a lot about upcoming job fairs. You should attend every single one, right? Not so fast! If you’ve just completed career training for medical assisting, why would you waste your time at a job fair for IT or marketing professionals? Choose the job fair that makes the most sense for your career.
Do your research. Once you’ve decided on which career fair to attend, find out what companies will attend and what kinds of jobs they have available. Get online and do some research. Which of the employers match your skillset and your career aspirations? Check out their job postings and apply in advance if you can. When you meet their representatives in person you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
Make a plan. A job fair is usually a one-day event, often crowded with people looking for the same positions that you are. You need to be efficient with your time and have a plan in place before you walk through the door. Know which companies you most want to connect with and where they’ll be in the room. Get there early. Plan out the questions you’ll ask and the answers you’ll provide to their most likely questions.
Bring plenty of resumes. Even if you only target three or four recruiters, make sure to bring enough resumes for many more. You may need to provide more than one to a company, but you’ll most likely find more than just the people on your list who will want your resume. For those companies that are totally tech savvy, consider bringing your resume uploaded to a thumb drive so you can send it directly through their website.
Dress the part. Pretend the job fair is a job interview –because it is! Dress to impress and demonstrate your confidence by the way you stand and interact with others. A firm handshake, good eye contact, and appropriate body language can make or break your chances of turning from a job candidate to an actual employee.
Don’t make silly mistakes. There are a bunch of common, but totally avoidable, mistakes people make at job fairs. Don’t speak too loudly or inappropriately. Don’t ask questions about information that you could have easily found on the company website. Be careful not to monopolize a recruiter’s time or interrupt them when they’re speaking. And be enthusiastic about the opportunities you’re presented with. You’re being judged not just on your qualifications, but also on how well you’ll fit with their organization.
Network with others: Job fairs are absolutely about those companies that are hiring. But don’t forget that they’re also a great chance to network with your peers, and current and future colleagues. You never know when some of those people you compete with on an interview could be in the position to offer a recommendation or even hire you!
Follow up: Be sure to say thank you to everyone you interview with. Get plenty of business cards and send follow up emails. Connect on LinkedIn. Even if they’re not hiring, reach out and keep your professional portfolio front-and-center.
At Charter College, we know that your career training is super important –but so is what you do once you have it. Career Services will help you polish your professional portfolio, prepare for interviews and job fairs, and a whole lot more. Ready to change your life? Start here.