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Getting What You Want at a Career Fair

Career fairs can be tricky and overwhelming events to navigate through. Here are some tips to getting you noticed and finding the job you want.

This http://www.WorkTree.com career article will give you some great tips on successfully navigating thru career fairs.  This issue will quickly cover the following:

A)  Purpose of Career Fairs
B)  How To Best Prepare
C)  Tips & Strategies During The Fair
D)  Career Fair Follow-Up

A) PURPOSE OF CAREER FAIRS
Career fairs are designed to provide job seekers a way to explore career opportunities within a variety of companies at one location. Job seekers should take advantage of these fairs to be better informed about the job market. Career fairs must be a part of your overall job search process. It’s a great way to learn about job openings,research companies and practice your interviewing and networking skills. 

B) HOW TO BEST PREPARE
Its important to make the most of your time at career fairs. There will be many employers and even more job seekers vying for attention so its critical that you prepare in advance of setting foot into the career fair.  

Here are 5 tips that can help you be well prepared:

#1 – PRIORITIZE
Find out what companies are going to be attending prior to the day of the career fair and identify and prioritize the top companies that you definitely want to visit.

#2 – RESEARCH
Spend a little time researching these companies; the more you know the better. Use the Internet, library, etc. Employers love talking to candidates who are familiar with their company and business.  It also makes you look smart. Candidates who are knowledgeable about a company come across as intelligent and interested.

#3 – YOUR RESUME
Create and/or refine your resume and bring many, many clean, crisp copies to handout.  This is very important!

#4 – APPROACH
Create a one-minute introduction that summarizes your skills, goals, experience, etc.   Practice this until you are comfortable using this as your opening. The  career fair will present many mini interviews and you need to be prepared for this.  Anticipate interview questions and practice your responses.

#5 – APPEARANCE
Dress professionally – don’t wear shorts and sandals.  Use good judgment in what you wear and project professionalism.  Bring a nice folder to carry your resumes and a notepad and pen for taking notes.

C) TIPS & STRATEGIES DURING THE FAIR
Follow these tips below and you are on your way to a more productive career fair.

- Relax and plan on spending time at the fair. Career fairs are not that frequent so plan your time well. Try to avoid standing in long lines. Go early if possible because the first hour is usually the slowest.

- Always request business cards or at least get an email address so that you can follow-up and pursue leads.

- When you get to actually talk to a company representative remember to shake hands firmly and introduce yourself. This is your chance to make the best first impression.

- Be mentally prepared with a list of question to keep the conversation flowing. Ask about the company, the industry, what job opportunities exist, etc.  Always try to relate your skills and experience to the company or jobs that may be open at the company.
- Visit companies outside your industry.  You will be surprised at how many companies hire in all types of professions (ie. hospitals, banks, etc.)

- Visit your lower priority companies first. This way you can practice and fine tune your approach. When you are ready, then proceed to the top priority employers on your list.

- Network! Talk to both employers and other job candidates. If you are standing in line, don’t be shy talk to the people in line. More jobs are filled by networking than any other means.

- Conduct yourself with a professional manner at all times. Employers are watching at all times.  So when you are walking around or waiting in line, always maintain professionalism.

- Be aware of time.  Don’t stand and monopolize an employer’s time. Its not good for them or for you. Ask specific questions, get to the point and most importantly get the contact information for later follow-up.

D) CAREER FAIR FOLLOW-UP
Its important to keep yourself fresh in the mind of the employers. To do this, you must send follow-up or thank you letters within two days.  Always refer to the date and location of the job fair.  Try and highlight any part of the conversation that stood out to make it easy for them to remember you. Always include a copy of your resume. You might also want to follow-up with a phone call.

Also its important to re-group after a career fair and evaluate your experience. Try and understand what you did right and what can be improved upon, as this will help you be more productive at the next fair. 

Most importantly, just have a very positive attitude. Always have a smile and thank each person you speak to for his/her time. You have something to sell and employers are there to shop around, and vice-versa.

Sincerely,

Nathan Newberger, Managing Editor