Job fairs don’t end in offers, but they do help candidates get a foot in the door of their targeted organization. Depending on your experience level, a job fair maybe a good place to meet prospective employers, connect with HR personnel, and expand your network.
(Photo Credit: Lee J. Haywood/Flickr)
Here are a few tips to make the best use of job fairs.
1. Research the companies attending.
Check out the companies attending the job fair. While you are sure to find many employers you know, it may be worthwhile to research a few other organizations you wouldn’t ordinarily have tracked otherwise. You can still choose whether or not to meet with them at the fair, but it helps to learn more about the participating companies, especially if you are exploring your options. See if they are offering positions that match your profile.
2. Make a list of “must-visit” and “good-to-visit” companies.
If the list of companies is huge, plan to spend the day at the fair. It helps to make a list of company booths you must absolutely visit and try to visit if time permits.
3. Prepare your elevator pitch and practice it.
You will not get a lot of time with the recruiter, you may hold up the line, so make every attempt to utilize the limited time you have by preparing an impressive elevator pitch. Know what differentiates you from the rest and understand your value proposition. In short, why should they hire you?
4. Dress elegantly
In order to stand out of the crowd, make sure you are smartly dressed and carry yourself professionally. Remember, at any given point of time during the fair, you may be in the line of vision of someone important at the fair.
5. Carry multiple copies of your resume.
Make sure you have enough copies of your resume, at least enough to pass around to the companies you are interested in. Carry them smartly in a briefcase or a portfolio folder. Before you approach the booth of the recruiter, make sure you are able to easily access your resume to her instead of fumbling through your bag.
6. Make a firm connection.
When you reach the table, make sure you smile pleasantly and make a firm handshake with the recruiter. Connect with her using her name, and ask your well-researched questions. If you notice that she may actually be interviewing you on the spot, stay calm and handle the situation just as you would handle any other formal interview.
7. Collect business cards.
If it is not possible to get the business cards at the booth, wait till the end of the fair to reach out to the companies you want to apply for and ask for an email ID or phone number to connect further. Show your interest in the company. Ask what the next hiring steps are. If they are not hiring for your profile, ask for the contact information of the hiring manager for your position. You may not always receive it, but it’s worth a try.
8. Network and talk to other candidates.
In addition to collecting business cards and talking to recruiters and employees of the organizations hosting their booths, it helps to connect with the organizers, professional networking forums (who may also have a stall or may organize seminars) and with fellow candidates. It helps to make connections with people who are in same boat as you, as they can offer tips from their job search, insights into companies you want to apply to, etc.
9. Connect immediately after the fair.
Send thank-you notes or follow up with a personal call to thank the recruiter and express interest in the company. She will have met a number of candidates, but hopefully, you’ve made an impression. In either case, refresh her memory about your profile and where you met her. Let her know that you are looking forward to hear more about the next steps and want to keep in touch.
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