How to Navigate Job Fairs to Your Advantage

How to Navigate Job Fairs to Your Advantage

If you’re defining your future career direction and want a great opportunity to market yourself and learn more about prospective employers, a job fair could be the perfect venue. While you won’t likely be interviewed or hired on the spot, you will make connections that could prove invaluable to your job search strategy.

One-Stop Shopping

Career fairs are an efficient, economical way for you to personally network with company representatives including hiring managers and recruiters. Here are a few tips for successfully attending a job fair:

  • Make an impression in a way that your resume alone cannot. Demonstrate your professionalism and confidence, as well as your knowledge of various companies and industries, by introducing yourself to corporate decision makers. Even if their immediate openings aren’t a good fit, they may have something coming down the pike that would be perfect for you.
  • Learn what hiring managers are seeking in applicants. At the same time, find out as much as you can about a company’s culture, environment and day-to-day nuances. This way, you can begin to determine whether it’s an opportunity you want to pursue.
  • Take advantage of free workshops and counseling. Often, employers will provide onsite education for job seekers. Time permitting, they may sit and counsel you in person. Among other advantages, this can be a terrific opportunity to have an industry insider review your resume.

Before

A good job fair will be bustling with activity. Time with each individual employer may be limited, so prepare ahead in order to maximize the experience.

  • Research participating employers. Use company websites, the local library, business publications and industry journals, as well as your own contacts. Prepare a list of questions that not only will provide you with needed information, but also demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of different organizations.
  • Bring resumes. Consider the number of employers and bring about twice that many – even if you have already submitted them online.
  • Prepare and rehearse your “elevator speech.” This is a 60-second introduction of yourself, your background and qualifications and the reason for your interest in a company or position. Use this as your opening and then let company representatives guide the conversation.
  • Dress like a pro. Wear what you would to a job interview, unless you know for certain that the fair is a casual event – and even then, dress in clean, wrinkle-free clothing.

During

While in attendance at a job fair, keep in mind that you may be meeting your future boss for the first time.

  • Get to your A list employers first. If you have to wait and have time on your hands, go ahead and visit others, even some you may not have planned on seeing. Keep your mind open to new opportunities.
  • Take company materials and business cards. Ask representatives what their next step will be and if and when you should follow up with them. Be assertive and confident, but courteous. Never monopolize a recruiter’s time. And take notes!

After

Follow up as appropriate as the next step in building relationships launched at a job fair.

  • Send thank-you notes to those who spent time with you.
  • Send resumes and cover letters to companies you did not have the opportunity to see.
  • Make follow up calls. (Here’s where your notes come in handy!)

For additional advice on achieving your career path goals, please check out our Candidate Resource Center.  If you are looking to make a career move, please contact Contemporary Personnel Staffing and Professionals Incorporated at (315) 457-2500 or jobs@cpsprofessionals.com.

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