Job Fairs

Optimizing Job Fair Success

A job fair can be an excellent resource for an entry level job seeker to scout out a large number of hiring employers – but only if that person does his or her homework and is well prepared. Commercial job fairs give corporate recruiters the opportunity to assess hundreds, even thousands, of potential employees within a short amount of time – often speaking to a candidate for only thirty seconds to two or three minutes – meaning that first impressions do count, and appearances can make or break a young job seeker’s ability to be considered for a position.

Campus sponsored job fairs and career days are far more advantageous to college students checking out their options, as there are fewer applicants and better chances of actually getting to establish some meaningful dialogue with recruiters, who are also more likely to be predisposed toward the schools they visit.

How to Behave

At the typical commercial job fairs (including specialty job fairs, at which the recruiters are targeting IT specialists, engineers, or potential employees for other specialized positions), the vast number of attendees and the long lines – sometimes several hours to meet any one recruiter – diminish the chances of an entry level job seeker making a meaningful connection, unless he or she can employ some method of standing apart from the throngs of other applicants. One effective way of doing so is for a job seeker to walk around the fairgrounds far before getting into any line, picking up brochures from the tables, and then stepping back and closely but unobtrusively listening to the conversations between the recruiters and the other applicants. By doing this on-site intelligence gathering, a person gives himself or herself the opportunity to determine which companies are truly of interest and which lines he or she really wants to stand in, at the same time getting armed with some productive reading material to occupy the time spent waiting in line, which he or she will of course utilize to formulate answers to the questions it has become know the recruiters will ask.

It is best to arrive at a commercial job fair first thing in the morning and plan to spend the day – walking around and gathering information before being interviewed, and following up in person at the end of the day with the employers who are of the most interest. An even more important follow up step is to phone each person with whom one has met, to say thank you (or even leave a voice message doing so), then to back that up with a written “thank you” and a promise to phone again to arrange for a formal interview, with that second follow-up phone call being the all-important final step toward maximizing the Job Fair Experience.

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