Career Fair Success How can I best prepare? What are the do’s and don’ts? What should I do next?
How can I best PREPARE for the Career Fair? Understand your employment goals Research the companies Develop your sales pitch Update your resume Come with questions 2
1. Understand your employment goals. What kind of job are you looking for?
Career fairs can be overwhelming. Often 100+ employers and community based organizations attend these events.
Have a clear idea of the type of work you seek so you don’t miss important contacts.
Identify your career goals before you go, then focus on employers who fit that niche.
2. Research, Research, Research!
You must know the company and its product so you can convince the “buyer” of your value and price.
When possible, get a list of companies that are registered to be at the career fair. Lists are often available at One-Stop Centers, on line and in the newspaper. The list will help you prepare more effectively.
Find information on the company to which you are applying.
Learn about their customers, competitors, parent company, industry standing, products, mission, goals, philosophy, key players, etc.
Resources for company research
Read annual reports, sales catalogs and marketing brochures
Visit the website of the company and its competitors
Talk to people who work for, or deal with, the company
What’s it REALLY like working there? www.Glassdoor.com
The Business Review http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/
The Chamber of Commerce and local business associations publish directories that list companies by area. Check libraries or write to the individual associations.
http://www.weddles.com/associations/index.cfm (list of associations by industry)
Business Magazines and Websites; Fortune, Forbes
3.Prepare a sales pitch about yourself
At a career fair, you are going on several mini-interviews. Briefly tell them who you are and then sell your skills and qualifications.
Before you write your sales pitch, think about your audience, then focus on your common interests.
Offer a firm handshake
Show confidence and enthusiasm
Sample Pitches There are several ways to approach recruiters.
Sample Pitch #1
Hello, (use recruiter’s name on name tag) ___________, my name is _______. I read on the job fair directory (or on your website) that you are looking for a _________. I‘ve been a (or an) _______ for ______ years where I was involved with _____ and _____. This experience makes me very interested in working for ____________. 9
Sample Pitch #2
(With enthusiasm) Pat Smith! My name is Chris Jones. Jean Peters made me promise I would say “hello” to you today. Jean and I have been talking about the changes that are occurring at “Name Of Company” and he thinks I would be a great addition to the Childcare Team. I have an associate’s degree and five years of experience working with special needs children and their families. Just enough information to start a dialogue about your background, skills and how you know Jean. 10
Guy Kawasaki, author of Ten Ways to Use Linked Innotes in his blog that, "People withmore than 20 connections are 34 times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than 5." Having a connection at the company will help break the ice. If you don’t know anyone, LinkedInmay be able to help. 11
4. Revise your resume Update your resume making sure it targets the type of job(s) you want. If you have more than one target, have one version of your resume for each. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume with you - laser printed (not photocopied) on bond paper in a neutral color like: cream, ivory or white. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is my resume focused on my job objective?
Does my resume contain all the relevant information?
Have I identified accomplishments for each experience?
Have I included keywords and action verbs?
Am I using the proper format for my situation?
Is my resume complete, but not too long?
Is my resume visually appealing?
Does my resume have what it takes to get noticed by employers?
Is my resume free of errors?
Although you must bring copies of your resume, please note that many companies will not accept a resume on site. You may be directed to their website. 12
5. Prepare a list of questions for employers When the recruiter asks, "Do you have any questions?” it's important to have a few ready. It shows your interest in the company and the focus of your career plans. Concentrate on getting information that will help you make a career decision compatible with your requirements. Avoid asking questions that are answered in the company's employment brochures or on their website. ** DO NOT ASK ABOUT SALARY OR BENEFITS **
Do you have a written position description that I can take with me?
What skills, work experience or educational background are required for the position? What are you looking for in the ideal candidate?
What are the major challenges be for the person you hire?
What types of formal or on-the-job training programs does ___ Co. offer?
Why is the position open?
What is the next step in the hiring process?
What should you bring to the career fair?
ResumeBring more copies than you think you will need; highlight skills, abilities, accomplishments, education and work history. If you have multiple career objectives, bring resumes targeted to each, with no errors, on resume paper.
Letters of Recommendation Attach to the resume.
Writing Portfolio or Messenger Bag/Briefcase
This will help you stay organized, give you a neat place to carry all your resumes and to put any company literature, business cards or employer applications, and can also serve as a hard writing service.
DressSince a career fair is a series of mini-interviews, dress professionally. Be neat and clean, a step above for the position you seek. No jeans, t-shirts, hats or sneakers! Remember to be conservative with jewelry, make-up, and perfume/cologne.
What do I want from today?
Get a Job
Learn about the Labor Market
Remember: The work you do prior to the career fair is critical for success at the career fair. Do not skip this critical step. 16
What should I DO AT the Career Fair? Arrive early Register First impression Take advantage of services What not to do 17
1. Start early An early start will help you conduct yourjob search while you have plenty of energy.Expect many people and long lines. 2. Register/Check out the floor plan
Register and get a business directory. Compare with
the list you found prior – look for changes.
Prioritize the companies by Must See, Would Like To Seeand Will See If Time.
Check out the floor plan to see where the “must see” employers will be.
Being organized will make your search more efficient and reduce frustration.
3. Make a good first impression Career Fairs are serious interviews, not “window shopping”.You only get one chance to make a first impression. Approach employers with confidence and make eye contact. Smile, offer a strong handshake and a positive attitude. Be upbeat when you introduce yourself. Approach each table from the side to pick up materials before you get in line. Take a few steps back and discreetly listen to what the interviewer asks, and how they react to the answers. If the company or job interests you, get in line. Use your research, the materials and what you hear to frame your answers and you can show that you are qualified. If there is more than one interviewer, note their personality styles and approach the one who is most like you (Personality Matching). When your turn comes, tell them about yourself with confidence and standout from the crowd. 19
first Impression (continued)
Show employers you know their company. Being preparedto discuss products, industry facts, figures and trends will demonstrate that you have made a sincere and solid effort to learn about their organization. This investment of time will give you the competitive edge. Engage employers in conversation (end statements with questions). Your last question could be “what is the key to successfully moving on to the next step of the hiring process?” It shows confidence and interest, and may provide critical information. Make sure to end with a handshake and a “Thank You!” Network with employers to get a better sense of their current and future needs. If they aren’t currently recruiting in your field, leave a resume, and ask them about other companies that may need someone with your expertise. Don’t forget to follow up. 20
Collect business cards Collect business cards and company information from representatives you speak with. Take time after each meeting to complete the Career Fair Log. This important information will help you follow up after the fair. 21
4. Take advantage of services Some job fairs offer additional services including resume critique, computers and printers, scanning resumes for distribution to employers, workshops, online application stations, etc. 22
5. What NOT to do during the Career Fair
Don’t take anyone with you who’s not looking for a job.
Don’t take up too much of the employer’s time. Consider the length of the line, but several minutes should do it.
Don’t vent about former employers to potential new ones.
Don’t interrupt an employer if he or she is surroundedby other job seekers. You want to have a brief, but meaningful conversation on a one-to-one basis.
Don’t be casual. This is your chance to make a good impression with someone that can help advanceyour career.
What should I DO AFTER the Career Fair? Follow-up ! 24
Follow-up is the last, and critically essential step, in working a career fair successfully. Since many people fail to follow-up, this will help you stand out even further, moving you closer to the next step.
Follow-up by calling the people you spoke with, writing a follow-up letter or e-mail, or both. During the career fair, find out from the employers what method of contact they prefer.
Go beyond thanking them for their time. Stress why you feel you are an outstanding employee. Ask for an appointment to further discuss how your skills can benefit the organization.
Sample Follow-up Letter John W. Smith1234 NEW YORK AVENUE ALBANY, NEW YORK 12210518-555-1212 April 15, 2011 Mr. Mike SampleChannel 101 Communications, Inc. 5555 West High TerraceAlbany, New York 12206 Dear Mr. Sample: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me at yesterday’s Martin Luther King Career Fair. I certainly appreciate your time in the midst of so many individuals seeking employment. You were extremely thorough in explaining the duties and responsibilities of the Building Maintenance position and provided good examples of what emergency situations might come up on the job. Now that I have a better understanding of what the position entails,I am certain I would be a valuable asset to the Channel 101 Communications team. My solid training at the Albany Vocational Center and experience working for both the Williams Center and Smith Apartment Complex have given me the required skill sets in carpentry, plumbing, electrical repair and masonry that you stated were critical to success in the Building Maintenance position. I’ve included a copy of my resume for your review and am looking forward to the opportunity to visit Channel 101’s main office to discuss this position and my qualifications in greater detail. Thank you again for your time and consideration. Sincerely, John Smith 26
Follow-up Career Fair Log Keep a log of who you talked to, what you learned about their company, what the next step in the hiring process, etc. This will help you stay organized and will help when writing your thank you letters.
Jobs of interest/requirements
Likes and dislikes
Interesting information learned
What did I not have time to say or could have said better?