10 Tips For A Successful Job/Career Fair
- Dress in a professional manner. Like with job interviews, first impressions count and even though job fairs are usually a casual event, you will want everyone to have a good impression of you from the start. More tips on dress sense and presentation can be found in my “Dress to Impress” post.
- Network as much as you can. Job fairs in themselves are not one-to-one interviews with employers, but they are a great way to help you along that path. The more relevant people you talk to and engage with, the chances of being able to secure an interview at some future date may be that bit closer.
- Take around 20-25 copies of your CV with you to give to potential employers and recruitment agencies. If that isn’t going to be enough as you go through the day, make sure you take some change with you so you can copy more at the event if required.
- Be prepared to complete numerous application forms. Some companies may want you to fill in their forms rather than see your CV as there may be specific information they are looking for on certain jobs. Do complete them on the day, and you could use your time more effectively by completing them whilst waiting in other queues. You can then go back to the employer with all the forms completed later on.
- Definitely research companies before the event. If you can, obtain a list of all the employers going to the fair so you can plan which ones are going to be of most interest to you. If they have a career page on their website, you can also find out their current vacancies beforehand.
- Prepare an X-Factor style introduction. Very cliché I know, but like X-factor where contestants have only 2-3 minutes to impress the judges, the same holds true here. For every employer you meet, hundreds of others will want to meet them too, so be very clear about the type of roles you are looking for, what skills & experience you can offer, and what is unique about you. The more you practice this, the more natural and confident you will come across, and therefore stand out from the competition. It is a great opportunity for you to be evaluated on more than just your CV.
- Prepare a list of ‘must-see’ employers / recruiters and a secondary list of those you would ‘like to see’. This should be fairly easy to compile if you have done company research as above and have a list of who will be there. It is one of the best ways to plan the whole day.
- Set your alarm early and get there. Not only will you have the maximum time to do everything you want to, but you should be there before it gets too crowded. Get a map showing where all the stands are located when you arrive, which will help you plan your route properly. If you have not been to one of these events before, go to some ‘like to see’ employers first to practice your Introduction and go on from there.
- Pick up business cards from your chosen employers and recruiters. This will enable you to keep track of who you met in person, so you can respond to them accordingly. For those you are genuinely interested in taking things further, a thank-you note can go a long way in showing your appreciation of their time and effort.
- Avoid long queues as it waste’s your time. You may have to be flexible with your plan at some points during the day, as the most popular employers are going to be the ones with the longest queues. Be conscious of time, and if the next company you want to see has a queue of people waiting, go to another one and head back later.
Leslie has over 15 years Recruitment experience helping blue-chip corporates to SME businesses recruit for their Finance teams. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy, a Specialist HR and Finance Recruiter across the Thames Valley and London, he is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow his helpful tweets on Twitter: @McGinnisLoy
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