Attending a job fair is a great way to have several mini-interviews and expose yourself and your capabilities to several companies in a few hours’ time. However, not properly preparing could result in wasting your day and networking opportunities, or even worse, making a bad impression on potential employers.
Here are 10 things you can do to ensure you are prepared for success:
- Make sure that your resume and cover letter are up to date.
You never want to get to a job fair and realize that you left off key information, like a volunteering experience or your last job. Take the time to sit down and go over your resume and cover letter thoroughly so that when it comes time to hand it to the recruiting manager, you feel confident. If you need assistance writing your resume and/or cover letter, all of our SC Works centers provide one-on-one assistance and many provide a free resume workshop. To find the nearest SC Works office and view their workshop calendar, click here.
- Find out what companies are going to be at the event.
You want to know who will be at the event for a couple of reasons. First, you should check out their mission statement and their values to see if they correspond with your own set of beliefs. Second, take a look at the company’s portfolio and figure out what kind of business they do. If it doesn’t interest you then don’t go to their table so that you can maximize your time with the companies that do interest you.
If there is a company in which you have a particular interest, take another look at your resume. Are there skills or experience that you might want to highlight or discuss in more detail which the company would find interesting? Think about ways that you resume might be customized to align with the company’s mission. Have these versions of your resume in a separate file and take a minute before you visit their booth to locate the personalized resume so you aren’t fumbling for it when are with the recruiter.
- Have a couple of questions ready for the recruiter.
Don’t ask the questions that are easily available to you online like when the company was founded, where the corporate office is or the name of the CEO. Instead ask about a project or initiative that the company is working on or ask the recruiting manager about the company climate and their favorite thing about working there. Being engaged with what is going on with the company is a great way to stand out.
- Dress to impress.
Did you know that dressing up improves your confidence according to a Forbes article written by clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner? Take the ten extra minutes to iron your pants, find a great tie or pair of shoes; it’s a sure-fire way to impress the recruiter.
- Remember the key successes to a great interview.
Because a job fair is like a job interview on a speed date, the recruiter is probably going to meet more people than they can remember, so don’t forget your interview essentials so you can stay on the recruiter’s radar. A firm handshake, a friendly smile and being aware of your body language are a few helpful tips, but certainly not all of the things of which you should be mindful. For a list that details other tips, check out the Undercover Recruiter’s article Eight Essential Interview Tips by a Recruiter.
- Be prepared to answer questions about yourself.
Why do you want to work for our company? What is one of your major accomplishments? Tell me about a time where you had to work in a team setting? These generic questions could go on forever, and you should know the answers, but take the extra time to think a little bit more. Instead of just answering what you consider your biggest accomplishment, think about your second and third. Having more than one may shed some insight on your work ethic and your goals.
- Be enthusiastic.
Nothing is worse than a job candidate that is distracted and doesn’t seem as if they are excited to be speaking with the recruiter. Smile, and show the recruiter that the position really interests you and why you would be a great fit for the company. As long as you’ve done your research about the company this should be an easy answer.
- Remember that this is a networking opportunity.
When you meet with the different recruiters make sure to grab their business card. Ask for it if there are not cards available on the table – this shows interest. The card not only allows you to be able to reference your meeting in a cover letter, it also gives you the contact information you need to connect on LinkedIn, should you choose. (To read more about creating a LinkedIn page or making a current page more robust, check out our post How to Use LinkedIn. Additionally, if you don’t get a job with the company, you may still be able to use your connection to see if they know of anyone else hiring in the industry.
- Come with an elevator pitch.
What is an elevator pitch? It’s a brief thirty-second pitch about you and your skill sets. The name says it all – if you got on an elevator and someone asked you to tell them about yourself before they got off on their floor, what would you say? This statement should be unique to you because you are trying to sell yourself to a recruiter. If you want to learn more about the elevator pitch and need help trying to craft one, click here.
- Get your bearings.
Get to a job fair about 10 minutes early. When you get there, stop and take a couple minutes on a bench outside or in the restroom to compose yourself. Check the job fair map, if they provide one, to see where the companies you want visit are located, make sure you have everything that you need and practice your elevator speech one more time.
Job fairs and hiring events are a fantastic opportunity to make an impression on several businesses in a short amount of time and perhaps see the recruiters of companies that may be hard to get to with just a cold call, but they can be a waste of your time as well as the employers if you don’t prepare for it as thoroughly as you would a job interview. Remember – that just what it is – several job interviews in a short amount of time. Make the most of it!