I will admit that often there may not be a huge selection of open positions or the positions offered do not suit you, but that is just one aspect of the job fair. There are so many other benefits.
That’s right – a chance to expand your network and recruit more to your personal sales force.
I’m not talking about just the employers, I am talking about the attendees. How many times have you heard – or said yourself – that someone looking for a job can find every other job available except the one they want?
Here is a chance to connect with people who know exactly what you are going through and to build mutually beneficial relationships.
But first – you need to prepare. Let’s do a quick review of job fair preparation:
Dress professional, not interview suit, but clean, business appropriate. (Wear comfortable shoes)
I have attended job fairs and seen people in hooker shoes, “I’m with stupid” t-shirts, stained cloths and pajamas. I’m not kidding. They left an impression, but not the one you want.
Have several copies of your resume with you to hand out.
You will be embarrassed to tell a prospective employer that you ran out of resumes or that you just brought one that they can look at but have to give back. Take a couple minutes to stop by a copy store and get some black and white copies made – I think they average about $.10 a copy. It is worth the investment.
Prepare your networking elevator speeches ahead of time. (Yes, more than one)
How will you introduce yourself to each employer? Each job is a bit different and so should your initial impression – to make sure you meet the job. Also, you will want to network with the people you are standing in line with – make sure you can engage them, as well.
Have writing utensils and a pad of paper to take notes.
A prospective employer may want you to fill out an application on the spot or give you information for you to follow up on – write it down so you do not forget. Writing on your hand is not an acceptable substitute.
Don’t go just for the goodies.
I can always spot these – the ones that go from table to table eyeballing the propaganda on the tables and filling up their bags. It is not adult Halloween – stop that. Yes, you can take a pen or whatever is available but have some respect. What do you do with all that stuff afterward anyway? I almost feel sorry for the kids in your neighborhood when Halloween comes rolling around….
For goodness sakes, smile!
Be approachable at all times, not just when you walk up to the table. Here’s a little tip – the recruiters watch everything. They do not just pay attention when you walk right up to them, they are watching you in line. They also take breaks and walk around themselves and this is when they may speak to you offline – you want to make sure to make a good impression.
So today in New Pal (only those in Indiana will know where that is, for anyone else – no worries, you wouldn’t be attending) I will be partnering with the Hancock County Library to provide free resume reviews.
That leads me to another tip – if there is free advice – take it! But – and I cannot stress that enough – realize it is a limited availability in time therefore be courteous and do not expect someone to solely focus on you for the entire event. I will not be re-writing anyone’s resume tonight. I will review, offer suggestions and that is the best I can do – I want to be able to help as many as possible.
Remember, when you go to a job fair and do not see a single opportunity that fits your needs it is not a total loss. That is when you can focus on meeting the other job seekers and building your network. Once people know who you are, what you can do and what you are looking for they are able to help you in your search – that is building a personal sales force!
When going to a job fair remember: be open, be prepared and have fun!
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW