The best thing about a job fair: an entire room full of companies who are hiring. The worst thing? An entire room full of companies to impress.
Patra Frame, owner of Strategies for Human Resources, told job-seekers exactly how to survive with the best results at the September 2011 ClearedJobs.Net Cleared Job Fair by sharing her six steps for making the best impression, leaving with the right information and starting meaningful connections you can use now and in the future.
1. Create an Elevator Pitch
Job fairs are inherently a marketing event, and you’re the “goods” up for grabs. You need to summarize why you’re the best hire out there in just a mere two or three sentences. Find out How to Wow Recruiters with the first words out of your mouth.
2. Choose Wisely
If you’re not careful, you could miss out on connecting with the employers you really want to meet while standing in line.
Rather than starting at one end and working your way around the room, choose three or four employers for which you’re most interested in working, and go straight to those booths. “If one has a long line, go on and come back,” Frame says.
When you’re done with your top choices, go back and focus on other possible employers’ booths.
3. Ask the Right Questions
“Don’t ask about benefits,” Frame says. “That shows me you’re not interested for the right reason.” Ask about other important facets of the job such as its duties and location, and whether it’s an immediate contract need or for a future contract.
And of course, never let the first question out of your mouth be, “How much vacation time do I get?”
4. Leave With the Right Info
Before you leave an employer’s booth, you need to collect the recruiter’s name and contact information. Also, be sure to ask the recruiter, “When will I hear from you if you’re interested?”
5. Network in Line
Long lines are a feature of almost every job fair. Use that time to your advantage. Rather than absentmindedly checking your e-mail, introduce yourself to the person in front of or behind you. Ask what they’re looking for. Trade contact information.
Sure, most people don’t attend job fairs to network, but it’s a great opportunity nonetheless. You never know who will know of a position that’s a great fit, or someone else you should talk to — or who will get hired and remember you for a position with their new company.
6. Follow Up
When you get home, don’t toss those recruiters’ business cards in your desk drawer. Frame recommends following up with each recruiter you talked to. Send a polite email with a thank-you note and a soft copy of your resume.
Lindley Ashline is the Web editor at GovWin.com, the network that helps government contractors win new business every day. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow her on Twitter @lindleyashline.