Perhaps you have participated in a job fair, or maybe you have just seen the images on TV. The lines are long as job seekers wait for a chance to speak to a recruiter about a job. Most people will tell you that it is unlikely that you will walk out of a job fair with a job. So is it worth it to go?
As a career coach, I advise clients to look at job fairs as only one piece of the job search puzzle. The competition is stiff at job fairs, which is why most people who attend them will not walk away with a new job.
However, job fairs can be useful. After all, you won’t meet a company representative by sitting at home and sending out resumes from your computer.
Here are my tips for using your time best at a job fair:
1) Go to network. Your primary purpose for going to a job fair should not be to walk away with a job, but rather to network. Recruiters at job fairs do not usually hire on the spot. Instead, they take resumes from qualified candidates and they may do a preliminary screening. Given this reality, you should try to make friends with the recruiters and make a good first impression.
2) Go to glean information. You should research employers prior to going to the job fair, but you also want to attend the job fair to find out more about what the organizations that you are interested in are looking for. Be prepared to ask questions about the company’s culture as well as any personal characteristics that are highly desirable in the ideal candidate.
3) Impress employers with your knowledge of the organization. Typically there will be a list of employers who will be attending the job fair. You should review this list prior to the job fair and give some consideration to which employers you want to meet. Research all the information that is publicly available about the company so that you can be well informed when you speak to the recruiters who are representing their companies.
4) Follow up with the recruiter. Make sure you ask for the recruiter’s business card so that you can follow up after the job fair. If you have established a good rapport with the recruiter, the recruiter will be favorably impressed with you. When you contact the recruiter, the person will already know you and will probably be more inclined to refer you for an interview for the position that you are interested in.
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