Have you ever gone to a job fair? Do you plan on it? If so, you have two choices. The first is to carpet bomb the place with your résumé. The second is to have a targeted approach and clear objectives. Guess which works better?
If you think that a run through the venue, where you will leave your résumé at every booth with a quick hello and a hand shake will bear fruit, you will be disappointed. If that is your plan, stay home and apply on line. As the recruiters and representatives at the booth receive these documents, they make quick decisions. There is the “no” pile and the “maybe” stack. Yours will not be where you want it.
Instead, have a strategy in mind and develop tactics that will give you a greater chance of success. Work to maximize the benefit of a face-to-face contact. Here are eight tactics.
- Research the companies and their jobs. Most job fairs have a website that lists the recruiting companies and the jobs available. Make a list of the ones for which you are qualified. Print it or carry it electronically. Work your list when you get there.
- Create a simple cover letter to go with your résumés. Each letter should be different and customized to each of the positions you want. At the least, include the employer’s name and two or three bullets on your qualifications relative to the requirements of the job posting. Use good paper and ensure quality printing.
- Have a concise introduction written and practiced. “Hi, my name is Bill Florin and I am here to share my résumé for consideration for the ____ job you are filling.”
- Be prepared to explain two or three things that make you qualified for the position. Again, you will need to research the job and review your talking points before approaching the recruiter.
- Have an answer for “What are you doing now?” Again, be concise. “My last employer went through a round of downsizing in the last two months, and I am looking to find a company that will benefit from my accounting expertise and drive for results.”
- Get business cards or other contact information if possible. Follow up immediately with a “Thanks, it was nice to meet you” email.
- Ask about next steps and the process to come. You will want to know this and set your expectations accordingly. You might not learn much, but it does not hurt to ask.
- Smile, say thanks, and move along. You don’t want to be a creepy job fair stalker, do you? Be good, be brief, and be gone.
Dress for success would be #9, but we don’t have to talk about that, right?
Nobody loves job fairs, but think about this: Would employers do them if they didn’t hire some of those attending? Not likely; they wouldn’t spend the time and money. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have a lot of success, but as they say about lottery tickets: Hey, you never know.
What has worked for you at job fairs? What hasn’t? Be sure to share your experiences by leaving a comment. Don’t forget to follow “Work” and share it with your friends!