Standing out positively at a job fair is not easy, especially when competing against a bunch of people in a packed auditorium. There are thousands of people who are just as motivated as you are, and each of them wants a few minutes of a recruiter’s attention. You need to know what it takes so that you can distinguish yourself from the crowd.
Things to Do Before the Event
Get a Lay of the Land
Before even stepping foot into a job fair, you should know all of the companies that will be attending the event. This will allow you to prioritize the companies you want to approach. If you run out of time trying to meet everyone, you know you have hit your top choices.
Prepare a Meeting Bag
The bag you carry with you at the fair should not be bulky. You want to be able to navigate the crowd effortlessly. Your hands should be free for handshaking. You don’t want to come across as disheveled. You may want to have a small purse or a dark folder, or you can have your resume, a business card with a nicely printed logo, and other pertinent information needed for the fair.
Dress Comfortably but for Success
Job fairs are just extended interviews. You want to look professional but also want to be comfortable. You’re going to be walking around a lot. If you’re too hot, you’re going to be sweaty and look nervous. Your shoes should be attractive but comfortable as you will be on your feet for several hours.
During the Event
Don’t Be Afraid to Get out There
The time you have with recruiters is short. It would help if you were confident, prepared, and friendly. Introduce yourself with a smile. Make eye contact, and give a brief yet firm handshake. When it comes to the firmness of your handshake, remember that recruiters are shaking hundreds of hands throughout the day. You don’t want your handshake to be the one that breaks their bones.
You are on a time constraint. Use your time wisely. Concisely lay out your skills and show why you are best for the position. At the same time, don’t speak so rapidly that you appear nervous or rushed.
Give Them Your Resume
Don’t wait until the end to give recruiters your resume. Instead, as you are discussing yourself, hand your resume to the recruiter and point to the items on your resume that back up what you’re saying. By the time you reach the end of the interview, the recruiter may be distracted and ready to move on to someone else.
Make Yourself Memorable
The person you’re talking to should know that you’re interested in their company. Ask relevant questions. Be sure to ask questions about follow-up steps. Offer to go to the recruiter’s office to have a more extended conversation. When the conversation is coming to an end, thank the recruiter for their time. Most importantly, ask for a business card. Remember, you’re never going to remember everyone’s names at the end of the event.
After the Event
Send a thank-you note to each person you met with. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in the company or not. Who knows where that recruiter is going to be at a couple of years? You want to leave a good impression.
Personalize a message for each company and recruiter. If you feel it is appropriate, you can send a handwritten note. Also, send everyone emails. Don’t copy and paste the same message.
Make Your Move
If you’re genuinely interested in a company, follow the instructions given by the recruiter to apply for the job. Submit your resume immediately while you’re still fresh in the company’s mind. If there is not a position available today that you feel you are a good fit for, ask the recruiter to allow you to come in for an informational interview. This will give you more face time with the company.
It Is Worth the Effort
It’s not always easy to differentiate yourself from others at a job fair. However, if you approach things in a prepared and organized way, you put yourself in a position to be ahead of the rest.
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