12 Ways To Make The Most Of Job Fairs
Often when job seekers hear an announcement for an upcoming job fair you can look around the room and see people roll their eyes. We chuckle amongst ourselves, “Oh great, another wasted two hours!”
Recently, however, I attended a job fair for what I thought would simply be a chance to get out of the house and practice my elevator pitch, and ended up with a job!
I met representatives from a kitchen and bath remodeling company associated with Home Depot. My background is in sales so I let my interest show by asking questions and pointing out parts of my resume that made me a match for their position. They said that at a minimum, I could bring in a third more than what I was making on my last job and at a reasonable maximum, five times more in the first year. (Did I mention that I’m interested?)
The next thing I know, the guy says he will call tomorrow, arrange to meet, and “get me in the system” for the next training class. He called the next day and … long story, short … I was hired!
With this unexpected outcome fresh in my mind, here are tips to make the most of job fairs you attend:
- Seek to find out what companies will be present and what positions are being filled to make sure that you will benefit from attending.
- Research companies on their web site and through other sources before the fair so you can speak knowledgeably to company representatives.
- Register ahead of time. By doing so, you may be sent tips about what to expect at the job fair and how to benefit from attending. I’ve found some fairs are informal, while others are carefully organized and highly structured. Be prepared for either type.
- Arrive early to get a jump on the competition. Remember that lines can be long and that company representatives can grow weary. Keep your energy level high and your interactions with company representatives positive and enthusiastic. Seek to be memorable.
- Dress like you would for an interview. It is better to be over-dressed than under.
- Bring more resumes than you need. Also bring business cards (with correct, up-to-date contact information) and a pocket-sized notepad and pen for jotting down information. You may want to staple your business card to your resume to make it easy for recipients to contact you.
- Think of booth interactions as mini-interviews. They may only last a few minutes, but expect the same sort of questions you’d get at interviews. Prepare now to answer well.
- Attend workshops that might be part of the job fair. Use such opportunities to not only learn new information, but also to network with presenters and attendees.
- Manage your expectations. Job fairs can be frustrating and unproductive, but seek to get what you can out of each opportunity.
- Perfect and practice your elevator pitch. (Elevator pitch tips) Most of the company representatives I met started off by saying, “So tell me a little about yourself.” Be ready to answer concisely!
- If there is time, ask questions. Ask for business cards so that you can continue building relationships.
- Send a thank you email to company representatives. If you are interested, let them know it! If not, thank them anyway for taking their time to speak with you.
With these guidelines in mind, a job fair could be a positive experience in your job search even if you don’t end up landing your dream job.