Topic of the Week Getting The Most From A Job Fair
- Dress up.
- First impression.
- Keep it going.
Not Always Fair: Getting The Most From a Job Fair
"Job Fairs are a waste of time." I hear that a lot and I understand the sentiment. I've been to more than my share of fairs and they can let all the air out of the tires of even the most enthusiastic job seeker. But don't overlook one key fact, companies keep paying to attend them. Fairs can provide opportunities, but only for those who prepare. Which reminds me of Richard Boudreaux. He was charged with burglary of a Kenney's Seafood, where he previously worked, in Slidell, LA. He had a plan to defeat the security cameras by putting a bucket over his head. Only one problem, he waited until he was inside the restaurant, and within camera range, to put the bucket on his head. He was easily identified and arrested.
Mr. Boudreaux had a plan, he just didn't start early enough. Unfortunately, it's not much different for anyone attending a job fair, preparation is the key. I'll give you some tips below to help you maximize your chances at the next job fair you attend.
Homework. This one probably sounds obvious, but visiting company websites before the event something that most people still don't do. Most have a list of companies that will be in attendance posted on the job fair's website. Spend some time on the websites of companies that interest you, if for no other reason, than to avoid having to ask, "So what does your company do?" Trust me, that is not how to score points with the recruiter.
Dress up. I literally mean dress up one level from the job that you want. If most people in your line of work wear casual clothing, put on a sport coat or a dress. Go up one level from the job you'd like. Yes, I'm saying avoid flip flops, cargo pants, all hats, too much perfume or cologne, etc. Remember, you're applying for a job not going to the mall.
First impression. A job fair isn't hanging out with employers, it's a series of short job interviews. I've asked recruiters and most admit that they make up their mind about most job candidates in a minute or less. So that first impression is very important if you want your resume or business card to end up at the top of the pile. Practice your greeting, a firm handshake and anticipate the questions they'll ask.
Keep it going. When you leave the job fair, that's when the real work begins. Collect business cards or contact information for every recruiter from companies that interest you. First step, send them a thank you note. Okay, it sounds like sucking up, but one recruiter told me that he never hires anyone who doesn't send a thank you note. Really. Second, go to the person's profile on Linkedin and ask to link to them.
Mr. Boudreaux had a bucket list, unfortunately he didn't bucket himself early enough in the process. Avoid making the same mistake at a job fair by preparing in advance.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.