Attending career fairs and other networking events is a great way to apply for a number of jobs and get information about companies that are hiring in your industry. For many people, career fairs are the best ways to networking with other professionals and they can even lead to a great job offer.
But, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you attend your next career fair. The event is your chance to make a great first impression, so make sure that you do it right. Here are some tips to help you out:
- Don't bring your kids – I know it is hard to find childcare when you are out of work, but don't bring your children along when you attend these types of networking events. The hiring managers who took the time to show up and interview people will not be impressed, no matter how cute or well behaved they are.
- Dress appropriately – Think of it as an extended interview and dress accordingly. It amazes me how many people show up to events like these wearing shorts, jeans and t-shirts or even sweatpants. This is your chance to make an impression on a large group of employers, so put on your best business wear and show them that you are serious about your career.
- Do your research in advance – Typically, there is a list of the employers that are scheduled to have tables at the event. Look over the list and do some research on the companies you think you might be interested in. Jot down a few questions you have for them and be sure to bring it with you. This way, when you get the chance to speak with the representative from the companies, you will have some thoughtful questions to ask them and it will show them that you are interested in their company rather than just testing the waters.
- Bring plenty of copies of your resume – Believe it or not, there are actually people who attend job fairs and say that they don't want to “waste” copies of their resume on employers who may not be interested in them. I think it is best to bring many copies, so that you can feel free to give one to every representative you speak with.
- Have your 30 second elevator pitch ready – When you have your mini-interviews with employers, you may only get 5 minutes of their time. Be sure to have your elevator pitch committed to memory before the event so that you will be able to quickly give them a feel for your experience and skills and why you would be a good fit for their company.
- Shake hands and show enthusiasm – This is key. When you get a chance to meet with the companies, offer them a good handshake and smile. Remember that enthusiasm and a positive attitude are contagious and people can't help but like people who make us feel good.
- Collect business cards – Be sure to ask for an interviewer's business card. This may be your only way to follow up with them after the career fair is over.
- Always follow-up – Many people who attend job fairs are their for reasons other than to find a job. It is crucial that you follow up after any mini-interview you have at this type of event. This will let the employer know that you are sincerely interested in their job opening.
- Networking, networking – When you aren't busy interviewing, take advantage of the event by getting to know the other professionals there. Talk with as many people as you can and be sure to ask for their business card. Sometimes the people you meet at a career fair can give you better leads than you got from the event itself.
Career fairs should be treated the same way that you would treat a job interview. Dress professionally, have a great attitude and let the employers know that you understand the process and that you are sincere in your job search. With any luck, you will be receiving job offers in no time.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.