Career Fairs: What The Heck Do I Do?

New Professionals Students

As I mentioned last week, there is a job fair coming up to the Long Beach Convention Center and it is strictly for College of Business?students at California State University, Long Beach.? ?Since this career fair is tomorrow, I thought I would touch on a few steps a person can take to have success at the job/career fair.? A career fair is a part of the job search process for those in the market of a new position.? Keep in mind that career fairs should be just one small part of your entire job search process; however, they can be a successful part. What I present you with is not a?guarantee to land you a job, but?by following these steps, you will be in position to strategically place yourself above other people at the job fair.

?The?Nine Keys to Success

  1. Register Early. Some career fairs allow you to pre-register for the event.? This registration usually allows you to?submit a resume. With more fairs going to the Web, pre-registration will most likely become even more common. The big idea behind pre-registering, is that employers will have?a chance to prescreen applicants and take notes on who they might want to interview or meet before even meeting the person.

  2. Research. Many students and job-seekers go to these fairs unprepared. You can get a head start on the competition by getting a list of the companies attending the career fair and doing some research on?the companies you are interested in or would want to interview with; be sure not to?waste time with companies you’re not interested in. With so much information about companies on the online, there is no excuse not to do your homework.

  3. Resumes. Bring lots of resumes to the fair — at least two for each company for which you have an interest. Usually about 15 to 20 resumes depending on the size of the job fair.?

    Tomorrow for instance, all employers received everyone’s resume in the form of a book.? All students were required to submit their resumes a week prior.? I don’t know about you, but I was given a book with over 400 resumes, chances are I would pay closer attention to the individuals who also brought me a resume in person.??For tips on writing a resume or cover letter, visit these:?Resume Blunders, Proofread Your Resumes, Amazing Cover Letters.

  4. Portfolios. More and more experts are emphasizing the importance of a career portfolio. These portfolios should include copies of your resumes, a list of references, and samples of your best work. Times to present these portfolios can include either over a short break or meal or during a first interview. Prepare for the worst, but plan for the best.

  5. Dress. Business Professional?attire is essential, even for those?beachside career fairs because image and first impressions are everything.?For interviews or career fairs, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

  6. Strategy.?Come up with?a strategy or plan of attack for the job fair. You’ve already done the first step by researching the companies you are interested in.?The next step is becoming familiar with the physical layout of the location.??It’s important to know where workshops and booths will be set up prior to finding your first company of interest.? Knowing the layout will give you a sense of confidence of knowing where things are and it will show to the employers.? Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning,?moving on to others in the later afternoon and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. But remember to be patient?as your top choices may be the same choices of many others.

  7. Intangibles. There are other things you can do to help make your job fair experience a success. First, don’t waste your time?meeting with companies you have no desire to work for. Second,?try to get some company literature from the booth before getting in line so you can read about the company while waiting; don’t just stand in line doing nothing.?

  8. Networking. Career fairs are all about networking. Of course, you are building a network with the college recruiters or employers. However, you can also network with your fellow job-seekers in terms of sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles.?Learn more on networking by visiting: Be Ready To Network.

  9. Follow-up.?Many people would say the follow-up is one of the most important things you can do. You would be surprised at how few job-seekers actually take the time to follow-up?after the?career fair. This will give?an edge over the many others who do not. There are two ways to follow-up (I’m sure many more, but two I will touch on).?Calling the recruiter the evening of the fair and leaving a voicemail message thanking the recruiter again for his/her time that day is one way. Or?a more?traditional way?is to write a thank you note and mail it the next day to the address on the recruiter’s business card. In the letter, thank the recruiter for his/her time and?state your interest?for the position.

These strategies should help you with a successful job fair.? There are many more things that you can do, but these are some of the core steps that can be taken advantage of to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Additional Resources:

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11 thoughts on “Career Fairs: What The Heck Do I Do?

  1. One more tip on #3. Besides taking bunch of copies of the same resume, also take customized resumes for different roles. For example if you are a business school graduate, take a resume for marketing as well as finance or etc., highlighting strong points of each one respectively and customizing it more specifically for each category. You dont want to apply for a financial position with a resume highlighting or was created specifically for a marketing position. I usually used to keep an open mind at the Career fairs and take all sort of resumes. Which ever clicked.

    1. Shawn,
      You’re absolutely correct. Having a personalized resume for different fields or better yet, companies (if you research and see they have a specific position open before hand this is possible) is a great way to approach providing them with the right resume.

  2. Personalization goes a long way, and if you have the time, creating a specific resume catered to each company will definitely wow your potential employer. It shows that you care and that you’re willing to take the time and go the extra mile.

  3. One can always write a cover letter stating the company’s name. that would truly wow the company HRs

    1. You never know, you can get there early, look at who is there and what they are offering, find a computer to access your email where you have your resume and cover letter stored then make sure a printer is connected and print it on the spot with the specific information for the company. Now THAT will impress them
      (Comments wont nest below this level)

  4. Excellent advice on how to have success at a career fair. One thing I learned is know what kind of employers are going to be there. Its sounds simple but here’s an example (personal experience):
    Big school, awesome employers.
    Community college – … um, not employers with career paths I was looking for.
    Remember you can go to various career fairs, not just career fairs that YOUR university puts on.
    Jason Alba
    CEO – JibberJobber.com

    1. Great point Jason! I would encourage everyone to go to as many different career fairs so that you cast a wider cast of possibilities.

  5. A trick in used in my college job fair days was to carry a few personal “business cards” with phone number, email, etc. People are very comfortable with exchanging business cards. If you offer someone your card they will usually hand one back to you too without even thinking. Now you will have direct contact info for person instead of having to deal generic human resource phone number/email address.

  6. Another way to stand out and look very serious about position is to come prepared with a 90 day/180 day plan. This is usually more appropriate for experienced hires who know what the day to day requirements of job are and want to show how they plan to get familiar with companies way of doing business.

  7. I never take copies of my resume to a job fair.
    Instead, the real objective when we are constantly blocked by Caller ID and gatekeepers is to meet more people and establish “new relationships,” from employers to fellow job seekers. Learning of a lead or recommending someone for a position creates human capital and equity. It’s a form of building reciprocity and courtesy. (I’d actually go so far to say it’s a bit arrogant to proclaim “Here I come to save the day with white-knight suit and tie and resume” when I haven’t even bothered getting to know you and your needs, further exacerbating the modern-day employer claim that so few bother researching companies any more.)
    I’ve found it a lot more effective to get to know the employers there (recruiters and hiring managers), find out what they want, get their contact information, and touch base again 1 week later offering to send materials then. And if you really make an impact, you’ll hear the employer say they’re no longer interested in you as a piece of paper, they’re far more interested in you (as it should be.)
    Job fairs can wisely help you remove the stranger factor while also obtaining exclusive access after what many have termed a “meat market.” Additionally, reconnecting afterwards is a great way to differentiate yourself.

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