Are you considering another trip through the career maze? Attending a job fair can make you feel like you are playing a losing game unless you have a clear understanding of the rules. Here are a few suggestions for making the most of any job fair, and gaining a competitive edge.
GET A JUMP ON YOUR COMPETITION
* Review the list of participating companies and determine which companies interest you the most. Pick several.
* Collect information about these companies and do your research before you attend the job fair. Check out their Web sites and look for information about them on the Internet.
* Match your skills to the companies' needs and job requirements.
* Practice your fifteen-second introduction. Be sure to include your name, your key skills, and what you can do for the company.
* Review your accomplishments and be ready to talk about them.
KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF
* Approach the job fair as you would a job interview.
* Dress appropriately and avoid wearing too much perfume or cologne.
* Bring plenty of clean, error-free résumés on good quality paper.
* Know what you are looking for. Be able to explain what you can do and what kind of position you want. Remember it is not the recruiter's task to determine which job is right for you.
* Relate what you know about the company and their products and services.
* Link your skills and experience to what they need. If you visited their Web site, say so.
* Enjoy the process; be positive and ready to talk about yourself.
* Smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself.
* Ask questions that demonstrate your interest.
* Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can follow up later. Make notes on the back of the card so you can remember what you discussed.
DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUCCESS
* Don't bring your children.
* Don't try to baffle anyone with smooth talk.
* Don't bring up any past history you have with the company or its recruiters.
* Don't grab a handful of freebies. Take one.
ESSENTIAL AND YET NOT SO OBVIOUS
* Visit with the smaller, seemingly less successful employers. You could easily miss a dynamic, little-known company that is a perfect match.
* Talk to other job seekers. Exchange information about possible employers. Don't miss out on this hot source of possible opportunities.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
* Sort through the company business cards you collected. Prioritize them for following up.
* Contact recruiters and hiring managers by telephone. After small job fairs, follow up within three days. After large job fairs, follow up within five days. Remind them of who you are, when you met, and what job or position you discussed.
* Express interest in meeting with them and offer to send them another copy of your résumé if they can't locate yours immediately.
* Follow up, follow up, and follow up yet again.
Mary Jeanne Vincent is the author of Acing the Interview tip cards featuring answers to the top 20 "killer" interview questions. Also included are tips for interviewing in the new economy, ideas for responding to illegal and trick questions, and suggestions for avoiding 10 deadly interview mistakes.
Go to http://www.2bworkwise.com for free job search articles and to sign up for the free WorkWise e-zine. For information on individual job and career coaching or to find out about other practical, easy-to-use career tools call Mary Jeanne at 831.657.9151.