By #1 Best-Selling Author and Recruiter Scott Vedder
It’s always best to customize your résumé and explain exactly how your experience has prepared you for the specific qualifications listed in a job posting. That’s a key point I teach in my best-selling book, Signs of a Great Résumé. But what should you do when you’re attending a job fair where you’ll meet with lots of different employers? In a job fair setting, employers will know it’s nearly impossible for you to customize a cover letter and résumé for every single company in attendance. To quantify what makes you a great candidate for several prospective employers, you should showcase examples of your accomplishments and skills related to the most common requirements in your field.
Before you write your job fair résumé, search for online job postings roles related to the career you’re pursuing. Take a look at the qualifications that different companies require. You’ll likely find some common trends and frequently used terms which appear in job postings at several different companies. With this bit of research, you’ll be able to write a résumé that speaks for itself and a cover letter which addresses your qualifications to fulfill the most common needs of your desired career field.
Next, before going to the job fair, try to determine which companies will be represented. Take a look at the jobs these companies already have posted on their web sites. If there’s a specific opening for which you’d like to apply, customize a separate résumé and cover letter for that posting and bring it with you along with your job fair résumé. If there’s not one particular opening that appeals to you, consider how that company generally evaluates prospective candidates. What key words do they use in their job postings? What types of skills and leadership attributes do they value? What can you learn about their corporate culture and business priorities from their web site? Then customize a résumé for that company with those ideas in mind.
Consider making a list of the companies you know you want to approach at the job fair and write a customized cover letter for those prospective employers. Your cover letter should explain why you want to work for that specific company and can also indicate the general field for which you’re interested in applying. When you submit a customized cover letter with your job fair résumé, you’ll stand out from your competition. Remember, most other applicants, if they submit a cover letter at all, will be handing over form letters written “To Whom it May Concern,” and not to a specific employer.
In your job fair résumé and cover letters, be sure you use specific examples to quantify what makes you a great candidate in your field. Whether you’re attending a job fair or you’re applying for a single position, your résumé should always be full of !@$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé.
! - Any part of your experience that was "amazing!"
@ - Defining points, places, dates and things in your experience
# - Numbers that quantify and prove your past successes
$ - The dollar value of your contributions
% - Figures that easily show growth and results
When you write a résumé that’s full of !@$%, your résumé will speak for itself and you’ll be on your way to a successful job fair!
Scott Vedder is a Fortune 100 recruiter and the author of the #1 best-selling résumé book, Signs of a Great Résumé. Scott has taught thousands of students and job seekers in résumé workshops at high schools, colleges, universities and non-profit organizations across the country. Scott’s book has been endorsed as “Recommended Reading” by groups including the Central Florida Employment Council and the Central Florida Jobs Initiative. Scott has been recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management and has been featured as a career expert in nationally-syndicated newspaper columns, on international blogs and in dozens of live interviews on radio programs and television news. For free résumé and interview tips, visit http://scottvedder.com/freestuff.html