Today, the world has gone global and, as it turns out, the process of searching for a job is not far behind. In place of small, personalized one-to-one initial contacts via networking, employers and recruiters alike are increasingly turning to job fairs to find the candidates they need for the open positions. Job fairs can be daunting – there is no doubt about that. Conducted in arenas that are big enough to host large professional conferences, in many ways, a job fair is actually not unlike a conference.
Sometimes there are workshops, but mostly there are rows upon rows of booths, each one occupied by an employer who has open positions. Because job fairs are typically open to anyone who needs a job and wants to attend, the competition is stiff, to say the least. Candidates attending their very first job fair can expect to feel overwhelmed, so it is important not to let this feeling throw you off. Rather, careful preparation can help you to do a standout job – and perhaps even land your chosen position at your very first fair.
Do Your Homework!
Because job fairs function much like conferences, there is usually an agenda and list of available employers beforehand. Often there is even some information about which positions each employer is hiring for. You can also do additional research on each employer’s website to find out about other possible open positions you may be a good fit for before you show up. Thus first, study the employer list as well as the positions and pick out the ones you are most interested in by highlighting them. If a floor plan is available in advance, highlight those booths on the floor plan to make sure you go to those booths immediately.
If you can’t get the floor plan until the day you arrive, then be sure to go early so you can scout out your route and visit the priority booths first. Once you have the list of which employers you really want to visit with, do some research about each company online. Learn about their major products or services, their corporate mission and vision, and anything you can find out about the recruiter(s) who will be attending (if you know their names) or the department you’re interested in. In particular, as you research the company and the recruiters or department managers, if you share interesting experiences in common, such as both holding degrees from the same university, then be sure to make a special note to yourself on the floor plan or agenda to bring those points up when you are talking with that specific recruiter.
Prepare Your Presentation
Once you have done your initial research about the job fair as well as the attending employers or recruiters, it is time to prepare yourself to land a job. First, polish your resume. Be sure that any industry-specific keywords are present, update your contact information, add updated job or education information and also any information about relevant extra credentials or volunteer positions. Don’t assume these topics will come up in conversation –put them down on your resume.
For instance, if you just earned your online mba degree, let employers know, but also outline this information on your resume. Once your resume is updated, print it out on fine grain paper. When making copies, make enough for each employer and then some extras. Next, focus on your own personal appearance. Choose a suit and accessories that are both modest and professional. If you are not used to wearing a suit yet, practice for a few days before the fair. The last thing you need is to get to the job fair, meet your chosen employer and spend all your time fidgeting in uncomfortable clothing! It’s equally important to pick shoes you can stand in all day, too.
Select professional shoes of course, but ensure that they are comfortable for you as well. If you are unsure about your personal presentation, ask a friend to help you with your wardrobe, hair and accessories/makeup before the job fair arrives. You can also practice with your friend shaking hands, sharing a bit about yourself, handing out your resume and other activities you will likely do while at the fair. If you follow these steps, you can expect to have a rewarding time at the job fair and maybe even walk out with a new job at the day’s end!
About the Author: Marcela Defor is studying for her master’s degree at the moment. When not studying, she volunteers at her university’s career fairs. She stresses that all students can use job fairs to their advantage, whether they’re studying for Scranton University online degrees or traditional degrees.