You are almost certainly leveraging all sorts of online job posting sites to connect with employers, and you should be doing what you can to network with professionals in your field to learn about every available job opportunity. Yet, you might not be utilizing one of the oldest and most reliable sources of employment: the career fair.
Regardless of what type of work you are looking for, you can find it at a job fair. Here are a few tips for launching your successful career in a single job fair attendance.
Research Participating Employers
Most career fairs happily share lists of participating employers to attract as many job candidates to the event as possible. These lists are most often posted on job fair websites, though they might also be accessible through social media pages of organizations responsible for hosting the fair.
Once you have a list of employers who will be attending the fair, you can start researching these groups to identify the organizations that best fit your interests, values and skills. You can start by navigating to business websites and exploring business social media pages, but you can also utilize your professional network to connect with past and current members of these organizations. The more you know about a company before the career fair, the more prepared you will be to ask and answer questions from recruiters.
Revise Your Resume
You should think of your resume as your essential marketing tool during your job hunt. Your resume should explain who you are and why you are qualified for the position to which you are applying; it should depict you as a skilled, smart, reliable and agreeable person who is the perfect candidate for this specific job. It is critical that you highlight important information, like your pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in business administration, that might help you stand out amongst the rest of the career fair crowd. You might ask a trusted friend or family member to review your resume for any glaring mistakes, like spelling or consistency errors, that will immediately turn off recruiters at the job fair.
Dress for the Job You Want
You only get one chance at a first impression, so you should carefully choose the outfit you wear to the career fair. Most recruitment experts advocate dressing for the job you want, which in business, often means a tidy suit befitting a high-level executive. Generally, you want to keep your outfit relatively neutral to demonstrate your professionalism, though you can add interesting accessories like jewelry to show more of your personality. Grooming is just as important as clothing, so you should ensure that your face, hands and hair are equally neat and clean.
Practice an Elevator Pitch
Before the day of the career fair, you should practice a 30-second introduction that explains who you are to recruiters at the event. Your speech should focus on what you can offer your employer, such as the skills, knowledge and experience that will make you a superior employee in the particular roles available from that organization. You should have your elevator pitch down pat, but you should avoid reciting it in a way that makes it sound overly rehearsed. You want to sound natural and enthusiastic about every opportunity at the fair, which will endear you to recruiters at your target employers.
Expect the Expected
Most career fairs look and function in the same way. You should expect to wait in various lines to interact with recruiters, especially for the most attractive employers in attendance. Some employers will reject your resume offering and redirect you to an online application. When this happens, you still have the opportunity to make a good impression with the recruiter by asking questions about available positions and inquiring about their experience at the firm. Being patient and respectful will go a long way to improving your experience and bringing you success in finding employment.
Send Follow-up Emails
Your experience does not end once you leave the fair. In addition to completing any online application processes requested by recruiters at the fair, you should draft and send follow-up emails to any connections you made at the event. This might include recruiters as well as other job seekers, who could become important members of your professional network. Your emails might remind recipients of the unique interactions you had and offer gratitude for their time and effort at the fair. You can send another follow-up email one week after the fair to maintain connections and check on the progress of your application.
When you are searching for a dream job, you should not ignore the opportunities available at a career fair. By preparing for the event properly, you can give yourself the best chance at career success.