Friday, September 17, 2010

Make the Most Out Of Career/Job Fairs

Career/job fairs are an opportunity for employers to talk to and screen a large number of job candidates. They also provide a chance for job seekers to meet a lot of company recruiters in one place and find out about available career opportunities. In order to make the most out of any career/job fair, follow the advice below:
  • Pre-register: Many career/job fairs allow for pre-registration and even the option to submit a resume in advance. Company recruiters then have the option of doing a preliminary review—noting those of interest to look out for at the fair.
  • Research the companies: When participating companies are listed in pre-event materials, take the opportunity to research those companies that interest you. This helps you prepare productive and relevant talking points to use with the recruiters.
  • Get your pitch down: You will likely only have a few minutes with each recruiter, so be ready to share a brief pitch that sells why you’d be an asset to the organization and highlights your key qualifications.
  • Dress professionally: A career/job fair is an opportunity for you to make a professional impression, so dress the part.
  • Review the event map and make a plan: Time is limited—both the recruiters’ and yours—so plan which companies you’ll visit and in what order. You may decide you want to settle your nerves by visiting one or two that are lower on your priority list when you arrive. If you have more energy and enthusiasm at the start, visit your top-priority companies first.
  • Bring several resume copies: Your resume will act as your calling card, so bring several copies.
  • Exude confidence and enthusiasm: Introduce yourself and extend a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact and communicating enthusiasm for the work you do.
  • Establish a follow-up step: Ask whether you can follow up with a call, or even bolder, a formal interview. The appropriate follow-up step will be based on your interaction with each recruiter. For example, if you find out there is an open job that is a good fit, then a request for an interview may make sense. No matter what, send a thank-you note.
  • Ask for a business card and take notes: Make sure you ask for recruiters’ business cards and jot down any notes of importance, such as follow-up steps or other company contacts you discussed.

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