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Stand out from the Crowd: Top 10 Job Fair tips for Jobseekers!

by ​Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn

There is a lot to think about when it comes to preparing to attend a job fair. From what you will say, right down to what type of shoes you will wear--there are many factors that matter.Please take some time to review our blog posts leading up to our Get Hired! Job Fairs this September. We will be posting several great tips for the jobseeker.

1. Dress for Success: Personal presentation is key to a successful experience at a job fair. Remember, you want to give a great first impression; it will make the employer want to find out more. Often a first impression is made within 10-20 seconds of meeting; so now’s the time to get off on the right foot. It is important to have a good look at your wardrobe at least a few days in advance in order to ensure your pants still fit, there isn’t a dropped hem and to have time to wash and iron your clothes if needed. Your shoes should be clean and presentable. If you were gardening or playing basketball in them yesterday, then they are probably not the right choice for today’s job fair! If you show up in a suit or business casual clothing with running shoes on, the impression may be that you don’t really care about this opportunity to network and meet potential employers.

2. Know Your Audience: Now that you’ve got your wardrobe all planned out, you can focus on researching the employers planning to attend the job fair. You can find a listing of the employers on the job fair website or flyers. It is important to find out which employers will be at the job fair in order to understand where your skills will fit. You may not have enough time to meet all of the employers, so it’s a great idea to plan in advance which companies you will definitely want to talk to. If there are 5 companies you’d really like to approach, then research each, make some notes and rank from 1-5 to ensure you aim for your top preferences upon your arrival. Where can you research the employers? You can look at their website or look at their job postings to get an understanding of the types of skills they need. It would be of benefit to you to look at their overall mission statement and any values they may indicate. By doing these things you will get a very good understanding of what type of business they are; what type of people run the business and you can decide if they are the right “fit” for you. By knowing a bit about the company in advance, you’ll be sure to give a good impression to the employer when you meet face-to-face.

3. Get the Inside Scoop: Once you have a good idea of which employers you will approach, it’s time to put out your feelers and talk to those in your existing network to see if anyone works for any of the employers or if they did in the past. It will be a good idea to get the inside scoop and gather opinions of those that have had a connection to the company. They can also provide you advice and suggestions of how to potentially woo an employer during the job fair.

4. Get Connected, Online: How else can you find out more about the company? Social media. More and more employers are connecting with jobseekers through their social media. LinkedIn Companies profiles, Twitter accounts, even Facebook can house information on businesses. If employees of the companies have strong recommendations on LinkedIn, then it might be likely the company is the type of company you’d want to work for. If people are talking about a company on Twitter, you can likely find it by searching the company’s name. There is a lot of opportunity to learn more about a company through social media.

5. Zone In: Once you have a well-rounded idea of each employer, you can zone in and look at the specifics of each job posting. Review how your skills match the actual job postings. If you find you are lacking in certain areas, don’t fret. Often it is a personality that is a major contributing factor to being hired. This is where knowing about the company’s mission, values and culture can come into play while you are discussing your interest in the company at the actual job fair.

6. The Basics: Everyone's Got to Do It: Many people like to carry a “generic” resume, which they like to hand out in the spur of the moment if they see a job posting while out and about. For a job fair, this may not be the most effective way to approach an employer. When it comes down to zoning in on specific employers at a job fair, you will want to ensure that on your resume you tell them exactly who you are and how you fit the positions they are recruiting for. Don’t leave them guessing or confused by allowing them to read a resume that doesn’t reflect very many or any relevant skills. Each company should get a customized resume based on the skills they are looking for and which you possess. It is equally important to have a specific cover letter directed to the employers of your choice.

7. Ask an Expert: If these first several points are a bit confusing or overwhelming, you can always stop into an employment service office, such as Lutherwood, to discuss your concerns with an employment advisor. Employment advisors can assist you with resume and cover letter critique and guidance. They can go over a checklist of how to prepare for your personal presentation, or provide some questions employers might ask. By doing this, you will be able to go to a job fair feeling a greater level of confidence than those that have not fully prepared for the event.

8. 30 Second Summary – Jobseeker’s calling card: The recruiters at job fairs don’t always have 15 minutes to talk to each and every person that comes their way. It is important to ensure you have a plan of action on how to approach the recruiter and get your point across effectively without sounding robotic or overly rehearsed. By creating a “30 second summary” you can quickly pinpoint the important factors you’d like the employer to know about you.

9. Mind your manners: It is important to remember there are many other people interested in meeting with the employers. You do not want to attempt to monopolize the time of the recruiter, as that may come across as pushy, arrogant or unaware of other people’s time. These are not qualities you would find on a job posting. Ensure you mind your manners, “please and thank you” and be respectful at all times. Tapping your foot while you wait your turn or jumping into a conversation might not be taken too well. Pay attention to others’ body language, as well as your own. If the recruiter turns your way or makes eye contact, then that is likely your cue to get in on the conversation and introduce yourself. A confident greeting and firm handshake can go a long way.

10. Follow up for Results: Once you’ve handed out your resumes and spoken to the employers, ensure you gather their business cards and take them home. Once you go home, don’t put those cards down or away, never to be seen again. Now is the time to send a thank you for the opportunity to meet with the employer at the job fair, remind them a bit about you or add to the information you shared and indicate you will follow up with them. Once you’ve done this, ensure you either document their contact information in your email contacts or in your employment search folder.

If you can carry out these Top 10 tasks leading up to and during a job fair, you should leave the event feeling very confident that you have presented yourself professionally to a great list of employers. The next thing to do is be prepared for potential phone calls to book an interview. Just as you prepared in advance for the job fair, ensure you prepare in advance for the upcoming interviews. If you’re not sure how to do that, we can help.