Career events are now vital networking tools.
When times were good, many job seekers regarded attending job fairs as mere window shopping and did not bother to do their homework on the companies doing the recruiting. Some just turned up to see who was there and thought they could wing it on the spot.
Career specialists say that you should fully prepare yourself mentally for what you can reasonably expect to get from the event, and don’t expect to walk away with the job offer.
The goal at a job fair is not to come home with the job, but with some new information and ideas, a contact name or two, and in the best case, the possibility of an interview.
The face-to-face opportunity it provides is much more valuable if you use it as a fact gathering mission to get answers from representatives of the company that you would ordinarily not have access to.
At job fairs you can get your foot in the door with an employer. Probably the job that’s perfect for you won’t be there, but it can be your entree into a company.
Your approach must at all times be positive so ask yourself “What do I want this person to know about me when I walk away”.
Because you’ll have only the briefest contact with the company you really need to rehearse what you are going to say you must be ready to answer the question “Tell me about yourself and what you’re looking for”.
Be specific or the recruiter will lose interest.
Research the company beforehand. Recruiters like to meet individuals with an understanding of what the company does. Once you have thought through what you going to say and selected your target companies you will need plenty of copies of your CV/1 page profile and business cards.
When you go, dress professionally. Companies tend to look for someone who is going to dress the part of a professional and can make a strong first impression.
It is vital to follow up on any contact you make at the event. If someone gives you information or contact names, act on them. By not acting, it sends a message that you either don’t follow directions or lack initiative.
Last but not least, never forget to thank a recruiter for their time.
Sending a thank you note might not ensure that you get a job or even an interview, but the lack of one could mean that you won’t.
Career fairs – key points
- A job fair is still a professional interview forum.
- A firm or at least an enthusiastic handshake.
- Be positive and interested.
- Make eye contact, and smile.
- Have CVs, 1 page profiles and business cards ready.
- Lead with your strengths.
- Do your homework on the firms at the fair.
- Say thank you, and always follow up leads.