What Really Happens At A Job Fair

Smithsonian carouselYou may not believe this, but even at job fairs there are carousels (you feel like you’re going round and round), roller-coasters (that up and down feeling), and shooting galleries (guess who’s the target?). But if you’re in the market for an entry level or mid-career level job or for one in a specific geographical area, a job fair just might be your ticket to the funhouse.

Should you decide to get off the unemployment Ferris wheel by attending a job fair, keep these tips in mind:

Job Fair Tips

1. Find out if you can pre-register online, via telephone, or by mail. You’ll save a lot of time filling out all that paperwork at the job fair. Reserve your forearm muscles for shaking hands and holding on to your seat for this wild ride.

2. Dress like you’re going for an interview. You are. Many job fairs shotgun interview as many potential employees as possible in the morning and call back their top picks for a more extensive interview later in the afternoon, so show them that you’re motivated by being ready.

3. Bring multiple copies of your resume. But not that same old boring resume that hasn’t helped you land a job in the last six months. Jazz it up by going to the hiring company’s website, learning about what they’re looking for, and tailoring your resume wording so your skills and experience match what they’re looking for in a candidate. If they’re looking for a “sales trainer,” and you were a “sales manager,” — it doesn’t match. Their dream candidate would match perfectly, so make sure they see you as their dream candidate. Get the picture?

4. Empathize with the HR people. They may have been on a cramped plane for the last 3 hours (after being delayed for 6) and haven’t had anything to eat or drink. So, be a breath of fresh air. They’ll remember that … and like it.

5. Arrive early. Sometimes hiring is done on the spot so the early bird really DOES get the worm. By getting there early, you’ll potentially be able to see all the available job postings for that day. Besides, who doesn’t want to get to a fair early?

6. Network with everyone. Don’t just try to network with the recruiters or HR people, network with everyone you meet, including other applicants. You never know how things will turn out and that person who just “borrowed” your pen may be the best contact you make all day.

7. Regardless of what happens, take a few moments to reflect. What did you learn today? Who did you meet? Where DID they work? How can you help one of these people? How can they possibly help you?

When you arrive, expect a herd of people, just like an autumn Saturday night at the county fair. Companies are sending fewer and fewer people to handle these job fairs just as the economy is sending more and more applicants to them. Be patient.

To get the job you want the keys are to be memorable, to match the company’s requirements, and to be flexible with their needs. If you leave to grab a bite to eat, they WILL call your cell phone just as you’ve take a huge bite of bratwurst. Bank on it, but just like everything else, prepare yourself, stay flexible, and have fun. You have nothing to lose by having a great attitude!

photo credit: randomduck

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