Walking into a job fair may seem like a daunting task. You may be one of hundreds of candidates vying for a recruiter’s attention, but you can earn an advantage over the competition by following these top tips for job fair success.
1. Do Your Homework
Most companies have to pre-register if they plan to have a booth at a job fair. This information is generally made available to participants. See which companies are hiring people with your skill set, then make an effort to visit those recruiters first while you’re still fresh, and have copies of your resume available.
In many cases, the job fair organizers will provide participants with a floor plan or map of the company locations. Since job fairs can be overwhelming, bring a highlighter or pen with you to mark the places you need to visit first. You should also mark off the companies that you speak to, so that you can remember to follow-up after the event.
2. Arrive Early
Recruiters are at their best at the beginning of the job fair, too, so plan to arrive when the event begins to attract the most attention. Be prepared to answer some brief interview questions on the spot or fill out applications for some employers.
3. Bring Extra Copies of Your Resume
Even though you have target companies that you’ll want to visit, bring extra copies of your resume in case you see an employer or position opening that appeals to you the day of the job fair. You do not need to hand out your resume aimlessly, but bring at least a dozen extra copies above what you need for your target companies.
4. Practice Your Elevator Speech
In this economy, job fairs attract hundreds of candidates. In order to be noticed – and remembered – by recruiters, you should have a 30-second or less pitch about who you are and what value you would add to the employer. It takes a while to perfect your pitch, so write it out, revise it and practice several times before the job fair.
5. Wear Comfortable Shoes
This may seem like a no-brainer, but participating in a job fair can be grueling both emotionally and physically. You will not be able to be your best self for the recruiters if you’re in excruciating pain because of uncomfortable footwear. Most job seekers dress professionally for job fairs and you should do that, too, but make comfortable business-appropriate shoes a priority.
6. Bring a Bottle Of Water And Hand Sanitizer
You are going to get thirsty from talking to all those recruiters, so bring a bottle of water to refresh yourself. While many job fairs provide refreshments to participants, it’s not a given. You will feel much better if you can hydrate yourself during the event. Hand sanitizer is also a great thing to bring to cut down on passing germs back and forth with all the handshakes you will be doing. Using hand sanitizer is also a good way to prevent sweaty palms if you are nervous.
7. Just Say No To Giveaways
It is perfectly acceptable to take some company literature if you are interested in a company, but try to stay away from taking giveaways and extra items from all of the employers. These items weigh you down and make you tired.
Remember, you’re there to find a job, not to get a new stress ball. If you must take items, consider bringing a messenger bag or briefcase with a shoulder strap to put the items into so your hands are free for sealing a conversation with a firm handshake.
8. Follow Up Within 48 Hours
Recruiters meet many candidates at job fairs. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, take business cards and send thank you e-mails after the event. In your e-mail, you should reference when and where you met and the position that interests you. You most likely will not receive a response from the recruiter, but it might help move your resume to the top of the pile.
Amanda Haddaway is a writer and career adviser for Careerealism.com
Go to www.TADPGS.com to view our job openings and join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about issues affecting you, your benefits, your dependents etc., feel free to send them to me personally at Ben.Marich@Adeccona.com, and I will try to help you.