by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.Here are the keys for students and job-seekers to successfully navigating a career or job fair. Follow these simple rules and guidelines and you should achieve success in this important strategic tool of job-hunting.
- Do have a specific strategy for maximizing your time at the event. And don't bother spending time with recruiters from companies that do not interest you.
- Do pre-register for the event, and do attempt to get the list of attending companies before the career fair.
- Don't eliminate companies because they are recruiting for positions outside your field; take the time to network with the recruiter and get the name of a hiring manager for your particular career field.
- Do attempt to research basic information about each company you hope to interview with at the job fair. A common career fair question from recruiters is, "Why do you want to work for our company?"
- Don't just drop your resume on the recruiter's table and walk off.
- Do prepare a one-minute "elevator pitch" that focuses on the unique benefits you can offer the employer.
- Do be prepared to talk about your work experiences, skills, and abilities. And for college students, do be prepared for a question about your GPA by some recruiters. (And do use the GPA -- overall, college, major -- that makes you look the strongest.)
- Don't be afraid or intimidated by the recruiter; he or she is there to do a job -- to meet and screen potential candidates.
Do have a few questions prepared for each recruiter, but don't ask questions that any good job-seeker should already know, such as "What does your company do?"
- Do say the recruiter's name several times during your conversation, even if you have to keep glancing at the recruiter's nametag. And do get a business card (or at least contact information) from each recruiter.
- Don't forget to eliminate such bad habits as playing with your hair, chewing gum, fidgeting, rocking from side-to-side, acting distracted, rubbing your nose, etc.
- Do remember all the keys to successful interviewing, including a firm handshake, a warm smile, eye contact, and a strong voice.
- Don't use filler words such as "um", "like", "you know."
- Do bring enough copies of your resume to the career fair. And do bring different versions of your resume if you are searching for different types of jobs.
- Do take advantage of the time you have to build rapport with each recruiter, but don't monopolize their time.
- Don't ever just walk up to a booth and interrupt a current conversation; wait your turn and be polite.
- Do dress professionally -- conservative is always the safe choice. And do wear comfortable shoes.
- Don't waste the opportunity to network, not only with the recruiters, but with fellow job-seekers and other professionals in attendance at the career fair.
- Don't ever say anything negative to the recruiter about your college or previous jobs, companies, or supervisors.
- Do be sure to ask about the hiring process of each company, but don't ask too many questions about salaries, vacation time, and other benefits.
- Do take the initiative and ask about the next step in the process. And do be prepared to follow-up all job leads.
- Do be sure to follow-up with each recruiter. Some experts say to call and leave a message on their voicemail right after the job fair, but at a minimum you should send each recruiter a thank you letter. (Do read this sample career fair thank you letter.)
Additional Resources for Jobseekers:
- Guide to Job Interviewing Resources and Tools
- How to Write a Resume: Expert Answers 19 Common Questions
- LiveCareer Free Resume Builder
- 13 Best Resume Designs of 2018
- Cover Letter Samples