Not Always Fair: Getting The Most From a Job Fair

This article has good advise for job show preparation if you want to improve your chance of success, which in this case is defined as landing a job.  Suggestion:  Read the article and prepare accordingly.

by Bob Rosener

“Job fairs are a waste of time.” I hear that a lot and I understand the sentiment. I’ve been to more than my share of fairs and they can let all the air out of the tires of even the most enthusiastic job seeker. But don’t overlook one key fact: Companies keep paying to attend them. Fairs can provide opportunities, but only for those who prepare. Which reminds me of Richard Boudreaux. He was charged with burglary of a Kenney’s Seafood, where he previously worked, in Slidell, La. He had a plan to defeat the security cameras by putting a bucket over his head. Only one problem: He waited until he was inside the restaurant, and within camera range, to put the bucket on his head. He was easily identified and arrested.

Mr. Boudreaux had a plan; he just didn’t start early enough. Unfortunately, it’s not much different for anyone attending a job fair; preparation is the key. I’ll give you some tips below to help you maximize your chances at the next job fair you attend.

— Do your homework. This one probably sounds obvious, but visiting company websites before the event is something that most people still don’t do. Most fairs post a list online of companies that will be in attendance. Spend some time browsing companies that interest you, if for no other reason than to avoid having to ask, “So what does your company do?” Trust me, that is not how to score points with the recruiter.

— Dress up. Literally, dress one level up from the job that you want. If most people in your line of work wear casual clothing, put on a sport coat or a dress. Avoid apparel such as flip-flops, cargo pants and hats, and tone down the perfume or cologne. Remember, you’re applying for a job, not going shopping.

— Give a good first impression. A job fair isn’t a place to hang out with potential employers; it’s a series of short job interviews. I’ve asked recruiters and many admit that they make up their mind about most job candidates in a minute or less. That first impression is very important if you want your resume or business card to end up at the top of the pile. Practice your greeting and a firm handshake, and anticipate the questions they’ll ask.

— Keep it going. The real work begins when you leave the job fair. Collect business cards or contact information for every recruiter from companies that interest you. The first step is to send them a thank-you note. One recruiter told me that he never hires anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you note. Second, go to the recruiter’s profile on LinkedIn and ask to link to them.

Mr. Boudreaux had a bucket list; unfortunately, he didn’t bucket himself early enough in the process. Avoid making the same mistake at a job fair by preparing in advance.

Used with permission of the author