Job Fairs Don’t Have To Suck.


Look, I get that they are crowded, loud, busy, and not necessarily an ideal environment for making a personal connection; but, if you’re unemployed or looking, you simply can’t just blow these things off.  In this online age, when it seems so easy to job search and even network online, it is rare to have an opportunity to meet a potential employer face-to-face. Job Fairs are a one of those opportunities that you must take advantage of. When employers make themselves available to meet, answer questions and develop an impression of you that goes beyond your resume; you should be there. I live in Knoxville Tennessee, and there is a Job Fair coming up in a few weeks so I thought I’d shoot this out; however, the tips outlined are applicable anywhere. Here is a link to a Career/Job fair Directory for the U.S.  Each of these is an excellent opportunity to place yourself in front of prospective employers, practice interviewing, and develop personal connections.

So if you’ve been in front of a screen networking away the prospect of engaging on a face-to-face basis may be quite unnerving. But, luck resides at the intersection of preparation and opportunity. So, don’t be lucky, be prepared. Here are some tips that will allow you to make the most of the opportunity:

  • Gather information about the Fair, such as the names and information regarding your target employers participating in the fair. Rate and prioritize those employers you have an interest in from top to bottom and plan your “booth visits” by deciding who you will be seeking out first, second, third, and so on.  Don’t just go and meander about without a mapped out plan of attack.
  • Develop a script (elevator speech…15-30 seconds) that briefly outlines what you would like to tell employers about yourself, including your background, experience, education, skills, accomplishments and career goals. Practice it (with someone else if you can) until you have it memorized and sounding natural. Think of examples to illustrate your strengths, which you could share if asked.
  • Make sure to have your resume, business card and a QR code on them if possible as this is a great way for an employer to simply scan your code and then have access to the information you have place on it.
  • Ensure that your LinkedIn profile, Facebook (Be-Known), Twitter, Google Plus, etc., profiles and pages are updated, complete and professional.
  • Bring a professional binder that includes resumes, cards, etc, as well as a notepad, a pen and a simple appointment calendar.  Sure you’ve got a smart phone, but write it down for the time being, and enter the data later…phones get lost, and if your like most, you still write faster than you text.
  • In that binder you might include samples of your work, letters of recommendation and thanks from employers and customers, your reference list (which you won’t give an employer unless they ask for…but you never know) and anything else you could show to an interested employer.
  • Dress as you would for a job interview and make a point to arrive early. Turn off your cell phone as you go in. Approach employers confidently — make eye contact, smile, shake hands and express an interest in what they do. Be patient and persistent, and prepared to answer questions and make conversation. Collect business cards and offer to stay in contact.
  • After the event, send thank you cards to those employers who met with you and expressed an interest. This will reinforce the positive impression you made at the Fair.  Thank you cards, not emails….stand out.

Don’t get frustrated with other participants.  Stay focused on your goals, and making a positive impression with everyone.  Remember, representatives of the companies will not necessarily remain in their booth.  They’ll hit the concession stand, mingle with other employers, etc.  So don’t barge past someone because you might just come face-to-face with them shortly.

As with all aspects of the job search, some preparation and effort might go a long way toward improving your luck. Contacts made at a Job Fair can present you with the opportunities necessary to widen your professional network, raise your profile and potentially land a job.

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Posted on July 22, 2011, in Job Search and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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