Thursday February 9, 2012

Employment News

How To Make The Most Of Job Fairs

Standout and keep focused but don't forget the follow-up

Released by Robert Half, courtesy of Career Builder/Voice file photo

 

re you planning to go to the Aboriginal Job Fair at the Landing Sports Centre on Friday? Here's a few tips from Careerbuilder.ca on how to make the most of visiting the job fair.           Students check out job displays at the 2010 fair in Chilliwack.

Attending a job fair can seem a little like speed dating. Youíre one of many in a line of candidates who meet with participating employers so quickly there is barely time to shake hands and say hello before being rushed along.

With a little effort, however, you can use this brief time to your advantage. Hereís how to stand out at job fairs:

 Be choosey

If you treat a job fair as a simple matter of presenting yourself for selection, youíre cheating yourself. You should be the one doing the selecting. That begins with being choosy about the events you attend. A job fair that neither fits your specialty nor offers jobs in cities you would consider working in probably wonít be worth your time.

 

Once youíve found a suitable event, donít worry about making an impression with every employer there. Instead, create a list of the three or four that are a great match for your professional goals and interests. Donít overlook less familiar firms, which may have excellent career opportunities while attracting less competition. After youíve made contact with each of your top targets, investigate additional companies as time permits.

 

Prepare to stand out

While your time with an employer during the fair may be brief, approach the event as though you were preparing for several conventional job interviews that just happen to be scheduled on the same day. Ask members of your network what they know about the employers youíre targeting and do some research about those firmsí current priorities. Come up with a few questions that demonstrate your familiarity with each company.

 

Dress as you normally would for an interview and prepare a resume thatís customized for each of your top choices. Bring hard copies with you to the fair, even if you submitted your resume online when you registered.

 

Donít count on your resume to buy you extended attention from an employer. Every minute of a companyís time at a job fair is precious. Well before the event, practice a pitch thatís about the length of a TV commercial. Write it out, memorize it and rehearse it in front of a friend willing to provide a critique. The pitch should establish who you are, what your specialties are and how you can benefit the business.

 

Focus on the little things

The finer points of job fair behaviour can make the difference between a successful event and a waste of time. Here are some tips that can lead to better results.

  • Lose the posse. It can be comforting to attend a big event with a friend or two, but would you bring them along to a conventional job interview? Remember that the idea is to stand out and make new connections.

  • Use the whole event. When youíre standing in line to meet an employer or get lunch, introduce yourself to people around you. Take an interest in them, whether theyíre on the hiring or job-seeking side, and let them know your own story. Itís a low-stakes way to practice your pitch, as well as a chance to build your network.

  • Swag isnít free. Youíre here to find work, not to accumulate stuff youíll discover buried deep in a desk drawer the next time you move. Loading up on freebies looks unprofessional.

Follow up for maximum effect

Keep in mind the job fair isnít over once you head back home. After the event, send your new contacts a brief thank-you email that reiterates what you can offer their firms. Remind them of any distinguishing points you discussed.

Itís true most aspects of a job fair are out of your control. But that doesnít mean itís an entirely random affair. If you approach it as enduring a day of drudgery in exchange for a long-shot chance at a job offer, itís unlikely to do you any good. But if youíre selective and assertive about the parts of the process you can control, youíll have good reason to feel optimistic about your chances.

By Robert Half International

Robert Half International is the worldís first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.

 

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