A career fair is a great opportunity to make face-to-face contact with recruiters and hiring managers that is often lacking in the job search. Career fairs are a valuable part of the job search process. Following are some helpful strategies that will set you apart from the other participants.
BEFORE THE CAREER FAIR
• The first step is to get your resume in top shape. A resume can not get you a job, but it can prevent you from getting the opportunity! Some recruiters may ask you to submit your resume online when you get home. Make sure you have an internet ready resume to send.
• Preregister for the career fair and submit your resume online so that potential employers can pre-screen your qualifications.
• Conduct research and find out what companies are going to be attending the career fair. Next, research the companies to identify their openings. Choose 3 to 5 target companies and write a targeted resume and cover letter for each of these companies and their openings.
• Prepare your self-introduction that you will go through as an ice-breaker when you meet each of the recruiters. Instead of walking up to a booth and asking “What does your company do?” make an impression by demonstrating your knowledge of what the company does and how your skills would benefit their organization.
THE DAY OF THE CAREER FAIR
• Bring plenty of copies of your resume to hand out to potential employers.
• When you walk in the door, develop a “plan of attack” to meet the recruiters of your target companies. Hit your target companies first and then walk the career fair to ensure you don’t miss employers that may not have been listed.
• Create a positive first impression and stand out from the crowd by dressing to impress. Leave the shorts, t-shirt, and the kids at home. Dress as though you were going for a job interview – you might just get one. Use non-verbal communication, body language, and appearance to create an impression of confidence and enthusiasm.
• Use the career fair as a networking opportunity. Trade business cards, resumes or even just phone numbers with your fellow job searchers. You never know who you might meet and how they may be able to help you in your search.
AFTER THE CAREER FAIR
• The most overlooked part of the career fair is the follow-up. Within a week after the career fair, send a short handwritten thank you note or even just a phone call expressing your appreciation for the recruiter’s time and asking for an opportunity to meet in person to further discuss your qualifications.