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You Can Find a Job at a Job Fair

The best way to get hired is to talk to people who are hiring, right? So how do you get dozens of employers together so you can meet them all at once? At a job fair, of course. Fall is a great time to attend job fairs and other employment events. But can attending really lead you to a new job? The answer is yes, if you work it right. Before, during and after attending, take some simple steps to capitalize on all the event has to offer.

Before the Job Fair

  • Prepare by finding out which employers will be attending the job fair. Search their career openings for positions which fit your skillset and print out or make a note of the job titles and descriptions. Do not apply yet; just print out the postings and bring them with you.
  • Update your resume using key words from these job descriptions and bring clean copies printed on good paper.
  • Practice your infomercial. Every employer will ask what your situation is. Resist giving too much information. Instead, stand apart by confidently saying, “My name is John. I saw this accounts payable position online; can you tell me more about it?” Note: you gave only your first name and you asked a specific question to start the conversation ball rolling. Follow the representative’s cues to know if you need to share additional information.

During the Job Fair

  • Dress for success. Leave the flip-flops and Hard Rock t-shirts at home. Employers at the job fair will be dressed professionally; job seekers should be, too.
  • Share resumes generously. Some job seekers also carry business cards. To make it easy for recruiters to find you again, when you hand over your resume, ask, “May I send you an electronic version, also?”
  • Be friendly with other job seekers while waiting to talk with employers. You never know who might know someone you’d like to know better. Carry a notebook and jot people’s names and situations down so you can follow up later.
  • Accept advice and take advantage of resources available at most job fairs. If free resume reviews are offered, get one, even if your resume is impeccable. A little insight can have a big impact on a job application.
  • Make a game of it. Set a goal to meet, say, ten employers and ten other job seekers. Don’t quit until you hit it.

After the Job Fair

  • Follow up with employers and with fellow job seekers. Do this within a day of the job fair, and constantly think about what you can offer to others. Can you pass along a lead? Is there an introduction you can make that makes sense?
  • Update your online profile. A job fair will give you fresh ideas about how to present yourself to others. Work in some keywords and color your profile with good descriptions of your past successes and future aspirations. Join professional groups that share your interests.
  • Put your momentum to work. A day at a job fair is the best practice ground you can get for talking about your job search. The day after, make a list of twenty (or thirty or fifty) people you know who might not know you’re available for work. Contact every one of them and fill them in on your status.

Making the most of a job fair can pay off in new contacts and, let’s hope, new work.

Julie Desmond is an experienced recruiter and career counselor. She currently leads Job Search seminars for Help Wanted! Workshop in Minneapolis, MN, and will be offering free resume reviews at the Employment News MN Job Fair on October 18, 2010. Send your career planning and job search questions to julie@helpwantedworkshop.com.