If you know how to handle yourself at a job fair you will find that it will be easier to find work. There is no other time and place where hundreds of potential employers get together to hand out jobs. Most smart people know a job fair can be a career altering event. If you think you can just show up and start calling the shots you will see you are sadly mistaken. You’ll need to prepare to be sure your job fair trip actually helps you land a job. These ten tips will help you prepare, research, and follow up on your next job fair.
Before the Job Fair
The first thing you should do before a job fair is prepare. Prepare, prepare, prepare; it couldn’t be said enough. Make sure you practice your interview skills by rehearsing potential questions with a friend, co-worker, or family member. Create a list of the ten most likely questions the interviewer will ask you and practice giving your answers. Be real in your answers because interviewers can see right through a lie.
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is not having a completed resume. Your resume should include your accomplishments and goals, as well as specific descriptions of your job responsibilities. Personalize your resume based on your professional character and relevant work experience. A cover letter is a great opportunity to really sell your self to the employer and no resume should be without one.
Generic resumes are always the first ones to end up in the trash. Make sure that you proofread and spell check your resume before you make copies. There is almost nothing worse than seeing a resume that is full of typos, spelling, and grammatical errors. Make sure you bring a stack of resumes with you to the job fair so that you don’t run out of copies half way through.
The second thing you should focus on before the job fair is your strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to communicate your strengths in a positive way. Avoid being condescending about your accomplishments because this does not go over well with most employers. Potential employers are looking for people that can be a part of their team, not above the team. When looking at your weaknesses determine how you have used them in a positive way. For example, if you a work best alone try to mention that you are not afraid to ask for help when in need. Also pay attention to your body language. Crossed arms, standing at a distance, and wandering eyes are all signs of disinterest and will not help you get the job.
The third thing you need to concentrate on is the five W’s; who, what, where, when, and why. Research the companies that you are interested and know the information. The more you know the further you will go. Summarize the companies’ goals and products or services and adapt them as your own qualities. There is nothing more impressive than an applicant that is knowledgeable and prepared.
Fourth, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the job fair. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep before you plan on going to any interviews of job fairs. The sleep will help calm your nerves and you will feel and look more refreshed. There is nothing worse than showing up to the job fair with dark circles under your eyes and schlepping in like you just rolled out of bed. Wake up at a decent hour and do some light exercise and you will feel great and have plenty of time to prepare for the job fair.
At the Job Fair
The worst thing that you can do is not show up. In order to get a job you actually have to be at the job fair, in person. Don’t blow it off because you overslept or just don’t feel like getting up. This is how you live and survive, so get up and get out of bed and get to that job fair!
The sixth thing you need to focus on is maintaining good eye contact with the interviewer or company representative. It is all about first impressions. If you are glancing around or looking down at the floor you certainly will not get the job. Be confident and look the interviewer in the eye and maintain eye contact throughout your entire conversation. Don’t forget the interview is a conversation; be personable and show your character.
Seven. Meet and Greet. In the working world it really is about who you know. Network, network, network. Sometimes help can be found in the most unlikely places. Yes, you are at a job fair where there are tons of jobs, but you never know what someone can offer you unless you really talk to as many people as you can.
Eight. Get as involved as possible in your job search. If there are any professional job organizations or staffing companies that you can sign up with, by all means do. These groups can offer you mentors and peers in your field, as well as career strategy, classes, and seminars.
After the Job Fair
After the job fair it is important to keep the contacts you made close. Send an email or make a phone call to the representative to express your interest in working with the company, not just the job. Don’t just go to the job fair and drop off a hundred resumes and then wait by the phone. Be proactive and extend out to them. If you show a little initiative it may take you a long way, or at least get your foot in the door.
Tip number ten: keep your options open especially if you are out of work. Sometimes you have to get back in the game before you can advance in your career. Be realistic about your goals and how you are going to achieve them and you will see that the job offers will start rolling in. Good luck!