By Guest Blooger: Jessica Mattison, JobFinderUSA
Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair
The effectiveness of a career fair is often debated. Some paint them as a huge waste of time, while others swear by them. If you simply show up and expect to land a job based strictly upon your mere presence and winning personality, you’ll fall into the first group. Like most things in life, job fairs take hard work and a lot of preparation. If you are willing to put forth the effort, a career fair can become a truly valuable job finding tool.
Think of a career fair as one big interview. Just as you would if you were being called into a company’s office, you need to be prepared and do your research. Most often, a list of companies that will be in attendance can be obtained. Take this list and research any and all companies you are interested in. Look at their company website and social media pages. Make a list of notes and rank each company based upon which you would like to work for most. Your time is limited at a career fair and you want to make sure you visit with the right companies.
Take this time to customize your resume and cover letter to match with the culture of each company you plan to visit. Also, have some generic ones on hand in case you come across a company that you had not originally planned for. You might even want to have your own business cards printed. They should include your name, desired position, and contact information. They don’t need to be anything fancy, just make sure it looks clean and professional.
Compiling a list of questions you might want to ask each business is also a good idea. Include some blanket questions that can be asked of any industry as well as some more specific ones for companies you have taken the time to research.
You should also dress the part. Make sure you look neat, clean, and professional with your clothes pressed and stain-free. Your best bet is to wear a dress suit of some kind. As a general rule, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
While you’re there, don’t just network with the recruiters on hand, but also with your fellow job seekers. You will most likely be stuck waiting in more than a few lines, so take advantage of that time to exchange information—those business cards would come in handy here as well.
Following up is just as important after a job fair as it is after an interview. To make your life easier, ask each recruiter you meet for a business card. This way you’ll have their name, position, and all contact information at your fingertips; no worries about a bad memory or writing down something incorrectly. In return, give them one of your own cards to remember you.
Remember to send thank you notes or emails to each of the representatives you met with whether you liked their company or not. It is important to make good contacts with as many people as possible—you never know when you might run into them again.
After your initial contact thanking the recruiter, you’ll want to continue to follow up on the position you are seeking. You need to be persistent, but not annoying—there is a fine line. You want the employer to know how interested you are in the position, but you don’t want to come across as desperate and overly anxious.
Generally, no matter the position or form of contact, try to be overly polite and humble. As annoyed as you may be that your phone calls and/or emails have gone unanswered, don’t take out your frustrations on your potential employer. Stay away from statements like, “I still have not heard from you” or “you ignored my previous email.” Maintaining a polite tone throughout your email or phone message will keep the person interested, not angry.
Career fairs can be tough and some might not be as great as others, but generally, they’re a good time investment as long as you’re prepared to put the work in.
Article Reference URL: http://www.jobfinderusa.com/article/getting-the-most-out-of-a-career-fair/