Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Four Things You Can do at a Career Fair Besides Job Hunt

I love multitasking and I am always looking for ways to optimize my time to ensure I get the most out of every minute. As a job seeker, we have a tendency to become singularly-minded on landing a job. However, I caution you to take a step back and realize that if you focus too much on the end game, and not enough on the process, your job search may just take longer.

A common activity for job seekers is going to a career fair. In the spirit of multitasking and optimizing your time, I wanted to give you some alternative focuses for the next time you attend a career fair. Of course you will go to the career fair to job search. However, once you have walked the career fair and talked to your target companies, I urge you to take advantage of these other activities before you call it a day.

It is always a great idea to network with the company representatives at each booth. Gather business cards and jot brief notes on the back of the cards after you step away from the booth. The key is to personalize your follow-up communication and to do it quickly, while the career fair is still fresh in their mind. However, don't just stop at networking with employers. Do your best to network with fellow job seekers and representatives from educational institutes. Tap into the hidden job market by expanding your network of referral resources.

Build Your LinkedIn Contacts
As you meet people at the career fair - employers, recruiters, career services professionals, and fellow job seekers as them about connecting on LinkedIn. Your sphere of influence and potential for referrals and personal introductions grows each time you add a connection through LinkedIn. Once again, it is very important that you send a personalized message, and not use LinkedIn's template message.

Have Your Resume Reviewed
This can be a tricky one because everyone has a different opinion on what should and should not be done on a resume. When having your resume reviewed, ensure they are a professional that has current and updated information of resume writing. If the reviewer recommends you change something on your resume, always ask them the strategy behind their suggestion. If the answer is "that is the way I prefer it to be done," then you are getting opinion instead of strategy-driven constructive feedback.

Explore Educational Opportunities
Most every career fair has representatives from several educational institutions including trade schools, certification programs, and formal degrees. Talk to the school representatives about your options, not only for improving your marketability through additional education, but also about gaining funding to pay for your education.

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