Job Fairs: the Good, the Bad, and the Reality
As spring approaches, job fair season will be in full swing. As a job seeker, you should prepare yourself for what’s in store. As you’ll find out, no two job fairs are the same. Depending on where you go, you may find yourself in a groundswell of opportunities or frustrated that you wasted your time.
You can avoid running into these problems by making the right choices even before you print out your resume or choose what clothes to wear.
During the spring and the fall, you will find that local colleges and universities will host some of the best job fairs. Except on the rare occasion when the institutions limit attendance to students and alumni, college job fairs are typically open to the public and are generally advertised at the institution’s Career Services site or through the National Association of Colleges and Employers. These events are often the best for information about employers who will be attending.
However, be sure to do your homework. While there may be a large number of prospective employers at these fairs, they may not offer what you’re looking for. You wouldn’t want to enter a job fair that is targeted to nursing when you’re in the IT field.
On the other end of the spectrum, you will come across job fairs that are typically sponsored by an employment publication or online job board. In some cases, finding information on who will be attending is comparable to locating a needle in a haystack.
To make matters worse, you may discover that these job fairs have a limited appeal to attendees, as was the case when MSNBC covered an event sponsored by the online job board Monster. They found long lines and few real job opportunities. In fact, the most visible employers may not be employers at all but technical schools and colleges trying to convince job seekers to return to the classroom.
No matter which job fair you choose to attend, recruiters are definitely paying attention to how you approach them, as a piece from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out. In order to make the best impression, SHRM recommends that you do the following:
- Personal Presentation – The way you carry yourself cannot be stressed enough. Be certain that you dress professionally. Have your resumes ready in a portfolio or briefcase so your documents don’t look like a disheveled mess.
- Know Your Audience – As much as company research is critical to success, it’s equally important that you can prove your worth—that you can be an asset to the company. This is why you should create a 30-second summary that gives the recruiter information about you and what you can do. Depending upon the size of the fair, 30 seconds may be all that you get.
- Don’t Be that Person – It’s clear that you don’t want to be the job seeker who approaches an employer with a resume full of typos and talks about salary benefits immediately after introducing yourself. You also don’t want to be the candidate whose phone goes off while you’re making your pitch. Put the phone on vibrate, or better yet, turn it off.
- Follow Up, But Not Too Much – One visit to the employer at the fair is enough, and don’t stay too long. You’ll likely get a business card, so follow-up can help. However, attempting to contact the recruiter too many times will have the opposite effect. Be persistent, but not a pest.
Whatever your professional background or employment situation, the certified writers at ResumeEdge can help you stand out among the competition. We have helped job seekers with our services that include resume writing, resume editing, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and interview coaching via our JobInterviewEdge service.