As the economy slowly begins to percolate, there are a number of job fairs cropping up around the area. Job seekers constantly ask me if job fairs are worth attending. To be honest, it boils down to what exactly are your expectations. If you expect to immediately walk away with several huge job offers, then you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. But, if you’re looking to strike up positive contacts and entertain additional networking opportunities, job fairs can become a vital component in your job search.
As frustrations mount during this era of high unemployment, many professionals no longer consider career fairs as a means of finding a job. But according to a SHRM/Career Journal Poll Search Tactics Survey, over 70% of the human resources departments participating in the study do rely on job fairs as an important part of their recruitment process.
Tips to Fare Better at Job Fairs
Plan - While many job seekers earnestly seek to obtain employment by attending these events, few know how to go about it successfully. Many are ill prepared and walk away from them without interviews with their targeted companies and feeling let down. By developing a strategic plan, you can significantly increase your success at identifying employment opportunities, making an impression and obtaining second interviews. The following tips are designed to help you create a strategy that will have you walking away from these events with job leads and interviews.
Research - Do your homework and learn before the event which employers will be attending. Go to their website and gather essential facts about the company and the types of jobs that they will be offering.
Broaden your focus and include many types of employers. For instance, you may not have considered working for a hospital, but hospitals recruit and hire professionals in many different fields.
Dress to impress – As with a job interview, first impressions at a job fair are important. How you represent yourself sends an immediate message to employers about how serious you are in your job search. It isn’t always necessary to wear a suit to a job fair – unless you are looking for a job that would require you to dress professionally at work. However, you should leave the jeans and t-shirts at home. Business casual is usually the most appropriate. This entails nice slacks and a collared shirt for men and nice slacks or a skirt and a blouse for women. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Avoid wearing excessive jewelry or clothing that is too short or revealing.
Economize – Don’t be a chatterbox by trying to hog all of the employers time. Be respectful that employers are trying to talk with as many people as possible and may become irritated by your loquacious antics. Be professional, attentive, and ask a few good questions about the company and the formal interviewing process.
Follow-up – Ask for business cards and take notes about the conversations that you do have with employers. Ask for permission to follow-up after the event. I’d recommend waiting a few days since many other folks will also be doing the same thing.
Finally, it can be smart to use job fairs as a gauge to study the types of industries that are currently hiring. You never know, you just might end up learning about additional openings that could be of a better fit for you. Plus, the practice of simulating interviews will do you good. If you go in with this in mind, you can fare well at the job fair.
Good luck with your job search and always keep your head in the game.