Ready, Set, Career Fair!
Tips for Career/Job Fairs
Career/job fairs are great events to go to for job seekers. Different fairs may focus on a particular industry or community, such as technology industry or minority communities respectively. Although they are great meeting grounds for employers and potential employees; they can be daunting. Never fear fellow job seekers. I’m here to give you some tips to tackle the career fair.
First things first, have a resume. You can’t go to a career fair without a resume. You will need a bunch of them to pass around to the perspective employers. You should copies for the companies you definitely want to talk to, plus extras for the unexpected encounters you may have.
Now that you have a resume, you need to figure out how you would pitch yourself. Some people call this an elevator pitch. Why “elevator”? It is the notion that you may encounter an executive in an elevator and you only have a few minutes to try and sell yourself to the executive, in hopes to get his business. Instead you will be doing this to hiring managers at the career fair. Your pitch should be short and sweet but have enough information to convey why you are at the career fair in the first place. Here’s the catch about the pitch: It is not all pitch. In other words, try not to be too one sided with you conversation with the hiring manager. Try to talk a little about the company. What you know about the company. Maybe you have a question about the company. The hiring manager will appreciate that you want to talk with them not at them. They will be hearing a lot of pitches throughout the day and wouldn’t mind breaking out that monotony.
Speaking of which, what about the companies that will be there. Sometimes career fairs require you to register for them. Sometimes they are sponsored by your college, which means you have to be a student there, in order to get in. Sometimes they are advertised in the newspaper. The ones from the newspaper sometimes are free and doesn’t need registration. However they are produced, you should be able to get a list all the companies that are in attendance. Having the list of companies is a very powerful thing, this is where you can do the research you need to do on the company. First, of course, do they have the job you are looking for. Any company worth their salt will have a website. On that website should be a career/job/employment section. Do a search on this section and see if they have what you want for a career. Here’s the tip for the career fair, print out the job description from the site and attach it to your resume. You will submit this to the hiring manager at the fair. This way, they have your resume and the job that you are looking for. This makes their jobs easier when they go back to the office and shuffle through all the resumes they’ve collected.
While you’re on their website, apply for the job. Yes, it is weird that you have to apply and then go to the career fair. It actually isn’t weird because guess what the career manager going to tell you to do when you see them at the fair. You need to apply on our website. You will hear this from most everyone at the fair. So do it beforehand and let them know that you already have. But why go to the fair then if you already applied on the website. Well, the site is a detached way of introducing yourself to the company. Going to the fair will help make that attachment happen. This way, you are being proactive at the same time you seem really committed in your job search.
Finally, in your conversation with the hiring manager, try and see if you can get contact information from them. If you can’t get a business card, see if they are willing to give their email address or even just their first and last name. Even if you get just the name, you can go back to the website and see if you can find their email address. The reason for this is for follow up. It is important to send a thank you or even ask for an update to the job that you are interested in. Now all of these tips don’t guarantee a job at the career fair but they are active ways to engage with the hiring manager at the fair. Hope they are helpful and wishing you are the best of luck in your search.