Have you been to a Job or Career Fair lately? Well they are all coming up again in a town near you and there are usually some good job opportunities to discover if you come prepared and do the right thing.
If you’re looking for a new job, one of the best things you can do is to attend a variety of job fairs. But beware, you are not alone and there is usually plenty of competition, which means you need to stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of note:
Prepare for the Job Expo
One of the first things you need to do to stand out is to make sure that you are prepared. Preparing for a specific event allows you to get clothing together that will work for the event, as well as updating your resume and, if you are in IT or Design, your portfolio or other helpful items from your job seeker toolkit . Also, this is 2014, so please ensure that your social media profiles are up to date.
Oh, and although in some eyes a bit old school, make sure you bring some business cards. Most job seekers just bring their resume and nothing else. If you are able to present a business card to a hiring manager, you’re going to stand out. They will keep your business card, and you’re likely to get a call back if you made an impression. Make sure that your business cards are professional looking with all of your contact information up-to-date. If you have an online portfolio, resume, or website, include this on the card.
Do some Research on the Companies
You can generally get a list of the employers that will be there from the event website. Do your research and find out about the companies you’re interested in. This will allow you to focus your energy where you should and have meaningful conversations. If you can talk about what the company does and the history, you’re going to stand out as someone who does their homework.
Show that you are Interested
When you get to the job fair, you may feel overwhelmed. Avoid slouching and bad posture and looking as if you are not interested, such as checking your watch or looking around when talking to a potential hiring professional. Do that and you’re less likely to get the job you want.
Ask Good Questions
You’re at the job fair because you’re interested in a job in the industry. However, if you don’t take the time and effort to ask questions, you’re not going to stand out. When talking to recruiters avoid rattling off your qualifications.
Instead, ask smart questions about how the company works the environment of the office, etc. These questions will help ensure that you stand out. Make sure that you have done your research, as previously stated otherwise your questions will seem silly.
Dress for Success.
I know it’s tempting to slip on casual clothes for a day spent visiting booths and standing for long periods of time, but you are actually showing up for a series of mini-job nterviews with potential employers. So dress for the occasion.
Groom up a notch or two
Guys, seriously …don’t show up unshaven or with scraggly hair. Get a haircut and try not to cut yourself during that close shave. Ladies, if I can make a generalisation, you seem to put the effort in as standard practice so just be sure to look professional.
Show Your Patience.
Waiting in line for the most popular employers can test your tolerance. Don’t jump the queue, don’t complain about delays. Instead, use your mobile to google your next visit or strike up a friendly chat with someone else. You can also help your fellow expo visitor to get through all this with a nice conversation. You never know….
Be Professional and Polite.
Whether you’re chatting up an employer, or bump into someone who strikes up a conversation with you, be extra professional and courteous. First impressions count. You never know when the person whose foot you rudely step on as you race to another booth turns out to be a hiring manager for another employer.
Respect Your Interviewers.
The recruiters who represent employers are having a long day too. They have a tough gig and these guys have to deal with high volumes of candidates (like you) who are super-anxious to make an impression. So stick to time limits when you’re interviewing. Speak up to be heard over the crowd.
Don’t forget your minties and if you are a smoker skip or reduce your cigarette intake for the day. Do your research and practice your answers beforehand to show that you’re taking these opportunities seriously.
Follow-Up but don’t pester!
If, during an interview, you promised something to an interviewer – such as providing references or portfolio samples – be sure to do that pronto. Keep it short and simple and double check your material before you hit the send button.
Send Thank You Notes.
I am very strong on this point. I believe that anyone who interviews you deserves a personalized thank you note. (Hint: Remember to always ask for a business card no matter who you meet; it may come in handy afterward). Let the interviewer know that you appreciate them meeting with you. Remind them why you’re the best candidate. And include your contact info. Emailed thank you notes are enough. Avoid sending text messages or LinkedIn invitations, unless you have verbally agreed to that beforehand.
So start to mark your calendar for the next Job Expo(s) near you. Give it a try and share your experiences with other job seekers in professional forums, social media sites or here in my blog. Enjoy the event(s) and remember to hunt wisely!