Most job fairs now have web sites that showcase participating employers. Use the web sites to identify which companies that you want to approach.
You should also gather information about these employers from the site so you will be prepared to converse knowledgeably about the company with its representatives.
First impressions are lasting ones, so treat the career fairs that you are attending like a job interview. Come dressed for success in conservative attire, with a winning attitude, and ready to answer probing questions.
Periodically attend these events even when you are not necessarily looking for a job to see what opportunities are out there, and to gain a perspective on where you fit in the job marketplace.
Be prepared by bringing the following: a pen, note pad and stack of resumes. You should also bring a portfolio or carryall that has easily accessible storage areas. Wear comfortable, professional-looking shoes designed for standing long periods of time.
Your resume should be scannable, short and professional on white paper that is free of graphics, photographs or fancy print styles, but also containing larger margins for interviewer notes.
If they distribute name tags at the conference or job fair, by all means use them.
Arrive early to avoid having to stand in long lines, give yourself time to survey the layout of the fair, and determine the order that you plan to visit with company representatives. Large companies with high profiles will have the longest lines, so if some are on your list, you should visit them first.
If you are unfortunate enough to end up in a long line, which is likely during these economically difficult times, use the time to review your cheat sheet to refresh your memory about company facts and how you will sell yourself to that particular company.
Network with other job seekers. Talk to others while you are standing in line to exchange job-hunting ideas, provide support, and even obtain leads.
Be prepared to assertively introduce yourself, giving your best handshake, showing enthusiasm and making eye contact with the interviewer. Be concise, polite and direct, as you only have brief period of time to obtain the information that you need and to make an impression.
Recruiters will want you to be prepared to talk about your career objectives, strengths, willingness to relocate, interests, relevant skills, the kind of job you are looking for, why you want to work for their organization, and why you would be an asset. Be prepared to answer commonly asked questions and tailor them to the company’s needs.
The people at these events usually do not make hiring decisions, so close of the conversation by asking how you might go about arranging a second interview, how to contact the hiring manager, or what steps should be taken next.
If a recruiter is not accepting resumes, find out about their application process.
Use career fairs to polish your interviewing skills. Pay close attention to the popular questions that you may not have anticipated and prepare answers to those questions for future interviews.
Finding out about position needs, company culture and diversity. These questions will help you figure out if the company is a good match for you. Use the information that you obtain from your company research, and the questions that you ask to sell your skills that address their needs.
After talking to each recruiter, use the back of his or her business card to record notes about the encounter to help you remember important details and follow-up instructions. If no card is available, record their contact information and your comments in your notepad .
Say Thank You
Follow up as soon as possible with thank you notes that address the companies’ hiring needs, your qualifications, and express your desire for a second interview.