Job fairs can be a nerve-wracking experience, but they don’t have to be! The businesses that attend job fairs are coming to your school with the intent to hire –and with any luck, the person they hire will be you!
Here are 6 tips to stand out in the (literal) crowd:
1. Dress for the Job You Want!
Most of the time, businesses staff their tables with people involved in their hiring process. Even if you decide to check out your school’s job fair on a whim, these events are a great way to make a first impression with the movers and shakers of your dream company–and you want to be sure you have dressed the part.
Dressing in sweatpants, pajamas, hoodies, etc. is one of the most effective ways to non-verbally tell someone you’re not taking your career (or their time) seriously. If you want to get things started on the right foot, it is best to dress –at a minimum—in business casual attire.
2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
So, you’ve decided to go to your school’s job fair. You know you need to prepare, but what does that mean? To truly maximize the limited time you have at these shows, you need to do a bit more than just print off a few dozen copies of your resume.
Do your research. Scope out what businesses will be attending the job fair, and do some digging on the companies that stick out to you.
Do you know what types of positions you would be interested in discussing further and with whom? What qualities are you looking for in an ideal business/work environment?
3. You Have 60 Seconds
Job fairs are busy places; on job fair day, you are one of many fighting for the attention of the few recruiters at the show, and if you want to stand out you NEED to grab their attention.
Work on building an elevator speech that effectively shows your skills, experiences, and what unique qualities you bring to a business’ team.
Usually, you have about one minute, so make your words count. Sell yourself and try to think of a unique way to grab their attention from the start.
We had a client tell us the best elevator pitch he ever heard was from a candidate that framed his speech around his experiences maintaining a farm with his family. For our client, even though the position was an office role, it demonstrated to him that he would be a hard worker –because maintaining a farm is HARD WORK.
While you walk the aisle of the job fair, network with as many people as you can! Networking with recruiters from staffing agencies is a great way to get your skills and experiences in front of multiple businesses at once.
Even though new environments may be a bit scary, it is important to grab time with an organization’s representative one-on-one. When you do land your dream job, it won’t be as a package deal with you and your crew.
Although you don’t need to necessarily attend the job fair solo, it is important to remember job fairs are not a group effort.
5. Be a Business Card Warrior
Business cards are like the utility tool of networking. At job fairs, they can be used to expand your professional network, write notes about businesses and people that piqued your interest, and serve as a post-fair reminder to follow up with the connections you’ve made.
If you’re smart, you may be able to discern the contact information of a few other people at a company, too. Use these cards to follow up with individuals on LinkedIn and other business platforms to send a quick message; you may be surprised at the responses you receive.
6. The Attitude of Gratitude
The job fair may have ended, but your work is just beginning. Now it’s time to follow up and send a professional thank you letter to everyone you spoke with. Timeliness is imperative for this step, so don’t let more than 24 hours go by without following up in some way.
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Although the environment of a job fair may be a little more fast-paced than a one-on-one interview, both environments share a lot of similarities. It would be in your interest to treat a job fair with the same importance as you would an in-person interview.
Following these simple tips should help lead you to a successful job fair, and, ultimately, your dream career!