Job and career fairs are a great way to connect with employers, learn about companies and find job openings that may be right for you.
When you attend a career fair in person, you may find yourself in an auditorium or other large space. Often there are hundreds of people competing for the attention of the companies’ recruiters and representatives. Although career fairs are less formal than job interviews, following these nine tips may help you stand out to potential employers and advance your job search.
A suit and tie may not be necessary, but you will want to look professional. For men, consider a shirt with a collar and khakis or dress pants. For women, a simple dress or blouse with either a skirt or dress pants works well. This type of attire shows potential employers that you’re ready to be in a workplace environment. Because it may be a long day, consider wearing flat, comfortable shoes if you’re walking.
Do Your Research
Some job fairs may have just a few companies in attendance—or there may be dozens of potential employers. Either way, you should look over the list of employers and research the companies that interest you. Think in advance of questions that you may want to ask about the industry, job responsibilities or the culture of the company.
Approaching tables with a smile on your face and being willing to introduce yourself to the recruiters may help draw the representatives to you. The recruiters are there to talk with you and share why their company is a great place to work, so be positive and have fun learning more about companies and potential careers.
Set Realistic Expectations
Establish a few goals for a career fair, like connecting with a certain number of companies, handing out 10 resumes or even identifying a few specific openings you’ll apply for. But keep in mind that career fairs rarely offer the opportunity for more than a few minutes of discussion. Unless the career fair specifically advertises it, you won’t be interviewing for any specific jobs during the event, so it’s unlikely you’ll receive a job offer simply by attending. It’s when you follow up with recruiters after the event that you increase your opportunity to learn about job openings that may lead to a formal interview.
When you approach a company’s booth or table, don’t interrupt a conversation that the recruiter is having. Wait at the table until they finish. While you’re waiting, you can review any information that they may have set out on the table or go over the questions you’d like to ask them about the company.
Bring Your Resume
Companies may send human resources personnel, a recruiter or even hiring managers to career fairs. Having copies of your resume to hand out may help them identify opportunities within the company that may be a good fit for you. As you approach a company’s booth or table, introduce yourself and give the recruiter your resume. As you discuss career opportunities, you can also refer to your resume, pointing out specific projects or jobs you’ve had that relate well to the positions available.
While it’s not likely you’ll have a full interview at the fair, being able to answer questions about your skills and experience will help you make an impression with potential employers—and may lead to interviews and job offers after the fair. Before you attend, make a list of past projects you’ve worked on, any awards and accomplishments you have, and even challenges or problems that you’ve solved that you can share.
You’ll be meeting with a lot of companies, so keeping a record of conversations is a good way to keep track of details to use later. After each conversation, take note of the recruiter’s name as well as any topics that you talked about, such as a specific position or certain skill set. You can use a notebook and pen to write down the information or pull out your phone to record a voice memo.
Get Contact Information—and Follow Up
Ask for business cards from each person you talk with so that you can contact them later. A week after the event, set aside time to go through each potential employer and contact the person you talked with. Keep in mind that recruiters meet many jobseekers during each event, so they may not be able to remember your conversation exactly. To stand out, include some specifics on what you talked about (your notes will help you with this), including types of positions available and certain skill sets that you possess that their company is looking for. If you’re sending an email, attach your resume again. They may be able to send you specific job leads that fit your experience. Lastly, remember to thank them for their time.
Source: Ticket to Work