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Ready, set, go …to the job fair!
A job fair is an exciting time when you can impress hiring managers at the best companies all in one convenient locale. It can also be a bit on the intimidating side, with new people to meet and crowds of other job seekers vying for the attention of recruiters. And you have to accomplish all this is a short period of time. How on earth can you stand out and get in front of the right people?
It’s time to step it up.
First, pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to attend a job fair. This is a big step for you. Now, get your thinking cap on and focus on the ways you can ace the job fair. It’s what you do now before the job fair that will have the biggest impact on how things turn out for your career.
- Obtain the list of attending companies. A vast majority of job fairs will advertise in advance of the event, and this advertisement generally contains a list of the participating companies. If you can, get this list as soon as possible so you can do your homework before the big day. Check out every company website and find out what their corporate culture looks like and discover any current career openings to apply for.
- Update your professional resume. Although you may have spent a lot of time working on crafting an outstanding resume, you will want to give it a once over again. Have a trusted friend proofread your resume for any grammatical or context errors. If possible, have a professional resume writer update the resume formatting and add some new power words in your summary of skills.
- Make a better impression with networking cards. Luckily, it’s easier today to make and leave a good impression with recruiters. Create some professional looking networking cards online that include your name, contact phone and email, a website or blog address, and your social media account info (especially LinkedIn). Then print them out yourself or get them mailed to your place in advance. Bring plenty to the job fair.
- Treat yourself to a new haircut and manicure. You want to look your best when you walk into the job fair. Studies have shown that people form their initial opinion about you in the first 10-seconds of seeing you in person. That means you want look sharp and feel more confident. At the very least, get a nice haircut and a manicure so you are not judged negatively on your appearance for any reason.
- Get support from a job coach. Having the expertise and feedback of an experienced job coach can give you that boost you need to feel confident in a job fair. Take the time to schedule a session with a career or job coach a few days before the event. Ask any questions you may have about what to expect and walk in there armed with this insight.
- Pick out a power outfit for the job fair. Like a new haircut, you will radiate confidence if you look your best. Take the time to choose job fair attire that is professional, conservative, and comfortable. Get yourself some comfortable shoes too while you are at it, because you can expect to be on your feet for a few hours.
- Make a list of at least 5 great questions. Recruiters may be asking some questions of candidates at the job fair, but this is also a good time to break the ice with some of your own. Jot down at least 5 industry relevant questions you can ask when interacting with hiring managers at the job fair. This will help you to stand out and you will seem to be more passionate about your job search.
- Practice your introduction and eye contact. Recruiters are good judges of character and they pay attention to things like great communication, both verbal and non-verbal. Take the time to practice your elevator speech and observe your posture, how you make eye contact, facial gestures, and the position of your arms and hands. Use an open and friendly stance with frequent eye contact and avoid any odd body language.
- Drive by the day before the job fair. To increase your comfort level about attending a job fair, try to drive by the day before to scope the place out. Find out where you will be parking and if the event spot has an amenities such as Wi-Fi, onsite business services, catering, and restrooms. On the job fair day, you will be able to walk in there with a level of familiarity.
- Give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. This is it, the day you have been waiting for. Once you have completed your grooming, are dressed, and have resumes and networking cards in hand; it’s time to check yourself in the mirror. Be your own best friend by saying positive affirmations and boosting your self-esteem.
- Make connections at the job fair. A job fair is not just about getting an interview, although that is a major goal. It’s also about making the right connections and having conversations that count with company representatives. Take the time to greet everyone in a friendly manner, extending your hand, and exchange networking cards. Find a common ground with others and build that all-important rapport with everyone you meet.
- Follow up with recruiters. Once you’ve followed the above tips and the job fair has ended, your work has just begun. Take the time to follow up with the recruiters and others you met there. If you had a particularly good conversation with a company rep, take the time to send a handwritten thank you card and connect with them on LinkedIn. This will help keep you fresh in the mind of others and support your career goals.
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