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Job Hunting, Job Search Tips

Getting Value from Job Fairs

Job Fair 2012 #4

Job Fair 2012 #4 (Photo credit: Thompson Rivers)

In my experience job fairs are not that popular anymore. When I send out information about an upcoming job fair I invariably get questions from jobseekers concerned that the job fair will be a waste of their time. I assure them that if they go in with the right attitude and preparation, every job fair will have its value.

Some things to keep in mind when preparing for job fairs:

1.   Know what companies will be represented at the fair. There will usually be a list published as soon as possible beforehand. Keep in mind that even that even at the very last second, some of those recruiters may drop or others might be there. Do your research into the companies, what their industry is, and the kind of talent they’re looking for. Look them up on LinkedIn to see if you have connections at those companies. Get as much information as you can before going in.

2.   Be open to new possibilities. You may know what kind of job you’re looking for and even have an idea of the company you would like to work for. There might be opportunities at organizations you never imagined you would be a part of, or even heard of before. Keeping an open mind as you do your research and expand your network; you might find a whole new set of opportunities.

3.   Prepare your resumes. Note I said resumes, plural. You have an idea of who is going to be there; your resume should be targeted to those employers based on your research of what they’re looking for in candidates. It’s not uncommon to have 5 or more targeted resumes when you go to a job fair.

4.   Know what you’re going to say. Have a 60-second commercial, or elevator speech, ready. This might also be targeted to certain employers so you might have a few different ones as well. Also, arm yourself with some questions to ask the recruiters. This is an ideal time to find out what they are looking for in a candidate. You can ask questions like:

      • What skills are most essential to be effective in this job?
      • Is there a basic philosophy of the company or organization and, if so, what is it?
      • What sorts of changes are occurring in this industry?
      • What traits do you look for in the ideal worker?
      • How would you describe the working atmosphere at this company?

If something they say resounds with you, point it out: “it’s good that you should say you heavily use that skill set; as you can see in my resume I have 7 years experience doing that very thing!”

5.   Remember that the goal isn’t to walk out with a job offer. It just doesn’t happen that way. But even if you polished your 60-second commercial on a couple recruiters, or expanded your network a little, you’ve done something positive. One note about expanding that network: as soon as you get home, look up those people you met on LinkedIn and invite to connect. Remind them in your invitation where you met them. Then use their expertise to help you expand your network further, even if you’ve identified that company as not being a good fit for you.

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About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.

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