Daily Archives: December 21, 2011

New Ways to Make the Most out of a Career Fair

Careerfair_dec2011_webDuring the job search, one avenue to consider is attending job fairs. Generally, job fairs are events where several businesses will send representatives to display information and potential job openings for their company. This gives them the opportunity to screen several potential candidates at once.

While there are no hard statistics on the effectiveness of job fairs, some job seekers are feeling that  career fairs  are becoming more futile because they are generally overcrowded, show fewer job openings from companies, and are a maze where applicants get lost in the shuffle. Many job seekers don’t realize, job fairs should be one tool in your big toolbox of strategies when looking for work. With these strategies, you can stand out and make the most of your career fair venture.

There’s Background to be Found
suiting up and heading to the fair, take some time to look at the companies that are scheduled to attend. Identify the ones you would prefer to work for, and do some research about the company. By researching the businesses, you can ask more focused questions about how you can help the company and show the representatives you are genuinely interested in working for them. This will help you stand out from the crowd and be remembered.

Knowing more about the company will also help you tailor your résumé to fit the language and style of the employers you are interested in. Try making at least two copies for every booth you plan to visit along with several others just in case there is a variable like finding a new company that registered when you got there.

A Little Strategy Here and There
To get the most out of a job fair, don’t treat it like a museum. You won’t be able to get much accomplished if you go just to see the sights and hope to stumble upon an opportunity. Study a map of the event and decide which booth or company you would like to visit first. Create a list of alternates to have back-up booths to visit in case one line becomes too long.

Now is your chance to provide a 30 second elevator pitch to representatives and ask your focused questions. If you want to warm up, take a few minutes to talk to a company you really aren’t interested in. This allows you to hone your approach and build confidence before meeting your top prospects. You need to be flexible for impromptu interviews, form filling, or other unexpected twists, and your strategy needs to reflect that.

Don’t Just Look, Listen
Even though a company you were interested in doesn’t have any available openings, it isn’t the end of your search. It’s your chance to find out the company’s biggest needs. You’ll get a better concept of what is going on inside the company, and it will give you the upper hand in case the new contact in the company you are talking to learns of an opening.

This is also a good opportunity to meet and network with fellow job seekers.  Many different people from different industries and specialties are looking for work. Building relationships with fellow job seekers can lead to sharing of information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles.

Card Them
When you’re finished talking or interviewing with recruiters or representatives of the company, ask for their business cards. Many people forget about the power of the thank you and the follow up. If you want to make a memorable impression, follow up with a polite phone call or email a few days after to thank them for the talk.

To stay fresh in their minds, keep in touch with these contacts to wish them happy holidays, for special occasions, or to forward a relevant industry article or congratulate on a company milestone. This way you’ll be remembered when they hear a job opening that could be great for you. Do you have any success stories about job fairs? What do you find most effective when attending?