Job Fair season is now upon us! There is nothing quite like a Job Fair to size up competition and brush up on your own professional acumen.
Essentially, Job Fairs represent a professional one-night stand. Whether you are looking for work, more work or better work, attending Job Fairs is a fantastic way to see what’s out there without making any kinds of commitments.
As someone who has attended Job Fairs as both a job seeker and recruiter, I’m happy to provide you with some tips to make you stand out…in a good way.
What Not To Wear
This point may sound like common sense but it’s worth revisiting. Watch what you wear. You are being judged. Ladies, your prettiest bar outfit is not appropriate. You don’t want to be heard or smelled before you are seen. Read into that how you may. Gentlemen, dress shirt, tie, dress pants, no white socks. No sneakers. Invest. And Lose the backpack. You are your best moral compass! If you have to ask, “does this make me look fat?” You probably already know the answer.
Timing is Everything
Try not to attend a Job Fair Midday. For example, if the Job Fair is from 10am-2pm, if possible, avoid the lunch time rush. These are certain times when face time with an employer may be at a premium. Don’t be afraid of making strong first and lasting impressions. Oftentimes, employers will compare candidates based on the first and last candidates they meet. Be that person!
Résumé & Follow-Up
In our techy world, it’s a great idea to have an e-copy of your résumé to send instantly to recruiters. Most recruiters will have a laptop or some smart phone technology available. Want to make sure your document doesn’t get mistakenly recycled? Bring a USB stick to the job fair and have employers load your résumé to technology that makes it back to the office. Also, make use of business cards you collect. Add recruiters to your LinkedIn account. Follow-up with a message about your Job Fair interaction. It’s a great way to have employers remember you.
What if they aren’t hiring in my field?
The larger the organization, the more likely they are to have departments that requires a multitude of skill sets. For example, a company specializing in IT software will likely have accounting, human resources, marketing and external communication departments. Positions in these specific areas may not be promoted during the job fair, but they do exist. Inquire about these non-posted opportunities. You may receive a direct contact, or someone that can give you an inside edge. The added bonus? Minimal job fair competition!
When you do get face time with the employer, make it count! Turn off your cell phone. Make eye contact. Smile. Strive to achieve that balance of being conversational yet concise. It’s a great idea to mention something that an employer can remember you by…for the positive. Be interesting and quirky. Respect the recruiter’s time. Pay attention to non-verbal cues. If a recruiter is looking past you, motioning away from you, tries to stand up…these are good signals that your time is over.
Flattery Gets You Everywhere
If there’s one thing people love talking about, it’s themselves. Recruiters at Job Fairs are no different, often the extroverts of the company who are willing to pontificate on a moment’s notice. Want to stand out? Ask a recruiter about their role in the company. How did they get their start? What kind of background would be beneficial? Feed off of their enthusiasm. When recruiters spend hours at a time asking stagnant questions, the most memorable encounters are the ones that feel like conversations. Be that person.
Follow these tips, cultivate these job fair skills to ensure the once one night stand transforms into an opportunity you’re not ashamed to tell your friends and family about.
– Lidia Siino
Journalism and Communications Media ’02