Get Results from Career or Job Fairs!
If you have ever been to a career or job fair, you know that standing out and making a good impression are keys to success. Following my basic, but important, rules of what to do before, during and after a career or job fair will prepare you for success and boost your confidence. And while job offers will not be made at the job fair, if you follow through with these steps, you could be on your way toward a successful interview at the company of your choice!
Before the Career or Job Fair
- Map out your plan of attack.
- Secure a list of companies attending the job fair.
- Pick your top ten companies to target so you can move to those booths or tables at the beginning.
- Research; find positions you want on each company’s website and bring copies of the job descriptions to the fair!
Script your answers to the two questions you be asked frequently: “Tell me about yourself” and “What are you looking for?” Prepare concise answers to each and be ready to give the recruiter a clear sense of your background and the specific positions you are targeting.
At the Career or Job Fair
Keep in mind that your main objective at the fair is to get the name, title and e-mail of the primary contact within the company who hires in your field.
Arrive early! Walk around to get a feel for the layout and where each of your targeted employers is located. Decide with whom you want to speak and in what order. Approach the company table and introduce yourself with a strong handshake and eye contact. Pick up any of their literature, job listings and other material. Take notes on what you learn from the company representative. Show that you are alert, enthusiastic and confident. State your specific job goals and communicate how your goals fit with the needs of the company.
If you created a personal business card, which I recommend, give it to the recruiter. Do not use a business card from your current employer with your work phone and e–mail. Be sure to collect business cards from the company representatives and write down everything you learn from each employer.
If there is a company that you really want to work for, but they are not hiring for your field, approach the recruiter and ask: “Who should I contact in your company for a position in my field (e.g., computer programming)?” They might invite you to send your résumé to them and forward it.
Before you leave, go back to the companies you really want to work for. Wait until the recruiter is free. Walk up and thank him or her for their time. This lasting impression is very important for future contact. Remember, they may be talking to 50 -100 people, and it is best if they can remember your name and face over all the other candidates!
After the Career or Job Fair
Connect with the company representatives you met 24 to 48 hours after the event! Send a thank you e-mail referencing your meeting at the fair. Examples:
- Here are the qualifications and experience I bring to the position…<3 bullet points.>
- I would appreciate the opportunity to speak to you further in an interview.
- I will e-mail you next week to arrange a time when we can further discuss how my skills can benefit your organization.
Connect via LinkedIn by writing a personal connection message from your computer and not via the LinkedIn mobile app. Today, the app makes it very hard to write a professional connection request.
Finally, after the event, be sure write down your notes about the day: whom you met, what you learned, additional research to be done, networking opportunities, etc. Keeping track of all this information will come in handy when you get the call to come in for an interview!