Thursday, February 08, 2007

Everything You Wanted to Know About Job Fairs But Were Afraid to Ask

By Guest Blogger: Abi Moore, Southeast Regional Marketing Coordinator, The Employment Guide.

I recently attended a great Job Fair hosted by The Employment Guide at Raleigh, NC, and wanted to share some tips with job seekers out there who are thinking about attending a job fair. First of all, you have no idea how much those employers want to have a chance to talk with you! You might not understand this but they literally fight over job seekers and don’t want to miss a chance to meet you. I know many of you are intimidated by the employers with their fancy booths and business suits but after all, they are there to talk to you and hire you. So here are some tips that can help you make the best out of your next job fair.

Research, Research, Research!
Check out your local newspapers, employment websites and employment publications to find out about upcoming job fairs in your area. Job fair advertisements and announcements usually include a list of participating companies. Learn a thing or two about the companies that you are interested in as it’s a great tool to start a conversation with the representatives at the company booths and makes it easier to get an interview in the spot.

Dress Professionally
Do I need to say more on this subject?! Unfortunately you will be judged by what you wear before you have the chance to charm the employers with your intelligence and wits. The employers will be more likely talk to you and take you more seriously if you dress professionally and it’s always safer to be more formal than too casual.

Of Course You Can Cheat!
There are tens and hundreds of companies out there and you are not going to know every one of them. This is where you can cheat a little. You can create a little cheat sheet or cheat card with some information about the companies that are participating. Read them before you approach each booth so that you can impress them with your knowledge about the company. Also, you might already have a certain position or company in mind, but do not overlook or ignore other companies that are participating. You never know what you’ll get and could end up loving.

Prepare Your Speech
Do not wait until the company representatives come and talk to you. Also, don’t approach their booth by checking out their brochures (even if you’ve never heard of them before!) and collecting their promotional pens. You need to approach them with a firm handshake and start conversation. The company representative will normally ask you, “what position are you looking for?” or “what are you interested in?” This is when you fire away your 30 second pitch you’ve been practicing. Tell them about your education background or work experience and what you would like to do next. Now, do not stop there! Ask a question right back by saying, “what position are you looking for and what are you looking for in a candidate?” Feel free to drop bits of information you learned about their company so that they know you’ve done your research. This will give you a great advantage over someone that just wandered up to the booth.

Have Fun!
Yes, you are at a job fair and you are serious about getting a job and so are those companies who are participating. But have fun! You can take your time, network and get to know the recruiter. By doing so, you will leave an impression that you are easy to get along with and they will be more likely to remember you.

Leave Lasting Impression
When you are ready to leave the booth, thank the company representative for his or her time and ask if you could leave your resume with them. Make sure you collect the business card from them so that you can contact them later to follow up. Tell them you are looking forward to hearing back from them.

Drop Your Resume with the Hosting Organization
Hosting organizations sometimes collect all the resumes from job seekers that attended and send them to all the companies that participated as well as the companies that were not able to participate due to schedule conflicts.

Thank You Note or E-mail
Drop a thank you email or note to the companies that you have talked to, especially to those that you are interested in working for. Follow up with a phone call if possible.

Now that you know everything there is to know about job fairs, find out when is the next job fair near you (visit and click job fairs) and go get ‘em! Remember, the employers are waiting to talk to YOU!

You can use these great tips on February 20th at our Charlotte Winter Diversity Career Fair.

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