I’m attending a career fair next week and really want to know the
best way to prepare as this is my first one and I want to be successful at it.
The Career Doctor responds:
Career fairs are pretty cool events because both employers and job-seekers
are there for a very clear purpose. Employers are trying to gather and screen
a large pool of applicants and job-seekers are there to seek new opportunities
(either directly or through networking).
There are activities you should be doing before during and after the fair.
Before the event get information on the organizations attending the career fair
choose the ones that most interest you and conduct research so that you
know a little something about all of them. Polish your resume; I even suggest
making a specific version for each targeted organization. Work on your interviewing skills by reviewing common interviewing questions and/or conducting
mock interviews. Whenever possible get one nice suit for interviewing –
in a conservative style and color. Oh and if you are prone to sweaty
palms be sure to pack a handkerchief or something else (other than your
suit) to wipe your hand. Finally work on your elevator speech — a 15 to 30
second mini-bio that explains who you are what makes you unique and
the benefits you will provide. Finally whenever possible try and get a
good night’s sleep the night before.
At the event first survey the layout of the fair and then head to your top
organizations. As you approach the recruiter remember to smile make
direct eye contact and offer a dry and firm (but not crushing) handshake.
Your goal in the short time you have is to build rapport with the recruiter –
so that you will be positively remembered out of the hundreds of candidates –
but remember that you also need to gather more information to judge
whether the organization is right for you. Do not overstay your welcome;
if you see the recruiter looking over your shoulder at the line behind you
it’s probably time to move on. Make sure you get a business card — or
at least key contact information (including the proper spelling of the recruiter’s
name). And if you really want to stand out ask the recruiter if there is
anything you can do for him or her such as getting a beverage from the
refreshment area; thoughtfulness is a powerful thing.
After the event sort through your business cards and other contact
information and write thank-you notes or emails. And don’t forget to
follow-up with each recruiter about two weeks later to see where things
stand. Because you may have a number of contacts you might want to
consider developing a system — such as a job-lead log — so that you
have everything right in front of you.
Get more details of all these activities in my
Fair Checklist published on Quintessential Careers.
Find lots of career fair articles and tools in this section of Quintessential
Expo and Career Fair Resources.