Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Successfully Work a Job Fair!

Incredible tips on how to prepare for a Career / Job Fair from Jamie Starner, Career and Program Manager, Fresh Start Women's Foundation.
Many people think that a job fair is a waste of time, but this is FALSE! Job Fairs can be a very productive way to spend your time. You will have the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with hiring managers and recruiters which you may not have had the opportunity to do so before.

Imagine driving up to your selected employer, for example Banner Hospital and waltzing in requesting to meet with the hiring manager. I beg to say that they will not meet with you on a moment’s notice.

The first time you meet a recruiter is your only opportunity to make a first impression. Whether you are at a networking event, workshop, informational interview, job interview or attending a job fair your overall presentation is crucial! The morning of the event you should take a shower, avoid smoking, have an ample of amount of resumes printed and placed neatly in a portfolio, also bring at least two black pens. Please leave your shorts, jeans, tennis shoes, tank tops, flip flops, and hats at home. The only outfit you should be wearing is a coordinating suit. If it is warm the day of the event men should at least be wearing a long sleeve shirt and tie. Women need to be cognizant about how much skin they are showing, your skirts should be at least to your knee and it is important to wear a suit jacket or cardigan. Again, your appearance is crucial.

I often attend career fairs to pass out literature for Fresh Start. I was shocked after my last event. There were at least 30 fantastic employers available to connect with one-on-one but very few job seekers who were prepared. The most obvious concern I had was women who were carrying around their children! Yes, children! If you cannot afford nor have the avenues for childcare for a several hour event an employer is certainly not going to think you will have this barrier resolved prior to employment. The same rules of a job interview apply for a job fair; do not take your partner or friends. Out of the 400 persons I saw there, there must have been at least a dozen couples walking around holding hands. If you are carpooling with a friend/family member/partner separate ways prior to walking in. Do not lose sight of why you are spending your precious time there…….. to get a job!

Take note of the following do’s and dont's to make your experience a very successful event!

·         Research companies which will be in attendance.
·         Do not take children! If you cannot find arrangements for the event, why would employers believe you will have childcare if they offer you a position?
·         Set up a game plan for the employers you want to meet with in chronological order. This will eliminate time wasted.
·         Go alone! If you arrive with a friend or family member part ways immediately once you walk into the event.
·         Prepare and practice your elevator speech prior to attending the event. Your elevator speech is typically 15-30 seconds and should be slightly modified for each company depending on your skills.
·         Leave your cell phone at home or in the car. You should at no point have your cell phone out for the entire event.
·         First, after you have approached the table, shake the recruiter’s hand immediately and introduce yourself. You will next provide your elevator speech.
·         Do not go to the event for anyone other than YOURSELF!
·         Do follow through with the company after you have applied for the position, unless the job posting otherwise notes.
·         Remove your blue tooth piece prior to walking into the event, it is not jewelry.
·         Do approach each table with confidence
·         Do not ask “What do you do?” “Are you hiring?” You should have researched the companies prior to attending the event.
·         Double check your outfit before you leave your home.
·         Only bring the necessary items with you. which is limited to either a purse and portfolio.
·         Wear a professional matching suit. Men should be wearing at least a long-sleeve shirt, pants and a tie. Women should wear a coordinating suit. Be sure to wear panty hose and closed toed shoes.
·         Do not pick up on the free merchandise. You are at the career fair to get a job, not miscellaneous items.
·         Be genuine!
·         Do not wear a hat, large jewelry, flip flops, tennis shoes, or shorts!
·         Arrive early, career fairs typically have hundreds of job seekers in attendance. You should get there as early as possible to make an immediate impact and leave an impression on the recruiters.
·         Dispose of your gum prior to speaking with any employers.
·         You only have ONE SHOT to make a first impression.
·         Do not flirt with any other job seekers and especially not the recruiters!
·         SMILE!
·         Try to not repeat the same questions other job seekers are asking, if you listen while in line of what is asking you will be able to gain more insight with the recruiter.
·         Bring your fine tuned copies of resumes.
·         Do not forget to check your teeth and total package before walking out the door!

I hope these tips help you better prepare for your next job fair. If you can at least leave your children, pets, kitchen sink and partners at home, put away your cell phone and Bluetooth, ensure your appearance and prepare your elevator speech for the event you will be ions ahead of many job seekers!

Written by Jamie Starner, Fresh Start Women's Foundation Career and Programs Manager.

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