Prepa­ra­tion is key to max­i­miz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at ca­reer fair

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - JOBS ARKANSAS - Ca­reer fair you will at­tend. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of the ex­pe­ri­ence. Upon clos­ing your dis­cus­sion with each hir­ing man­ager, po­litely ask for his or her busi­ness card so you can fol­low up on the op­por­tu­nity with a sec­ond cop

Dear Sam: Af­ter spend­ing 13 years with my last em­ployer, I was re­cently laid off. The job-search process is new to me. There is a lo­cal ca­reer fair that I thought would be a good kick­off to my search. What should I do to pre­pare my­self for the event? — Jack

Dear Jack: I’m sorry to hear about your re­cent job loss, and I think the ca­reer fair will be a great way to start your search.

Ca­reer fairs can be over­whelm­ing, so pre­par­ing for them is a great way to make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be there. At the very least, get­ting out for the day, dress­ing pro­fes­sion­ally and be­ing pre­pared to sell your­self will do won­ders for your psy­che and self-con­fi­dence. As an ad­di­tional bonus, you will get a head start on sharp­en­ing your in­ter­view­ing and net­work­ing skills.

I am see­ing a resur­gence of event-based re­cruit­ing, so likely, this will not be the only ca­reer fair you will at­tend. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Re­view the list of ex­hibitors.

You need to do this for sev­eral rea­sons. First, when you walk up to a booth, it will be im­pres­sive if you know some­thing about the ex­hibitor. The worst ques­tion to ask a prospec­tive em­ployer is, “What do you do?” Do some re­search to learn about the com­pa­nies that will be rep­re­sented, tak­ing the time to re­view re­cent press ar­ti­cles so you are aware of the di­rec­tion the com­pa­nies are head­ing. You can also peruse the ca­reer sec­tions of their web­sites to get an idea of what types of skills they are look­ing for. This will be im­por­tant when you are telling the em­ploy­ers what you can do for them.

Cus­tom­ize your cover let­ter.

While you are re­search­ing the ex­hibit­ing com­pa­nies, gather con­tact in­for­ma­tion and even hu­man re­source man­agers’ names, if at all pos­si­ble. Use this in­for­ma­tion to cus­tom­ize your cover let­ter to each com­pany. Do­ing so will im­me­di­ately tell the re­cruiters you have gone the ex­tra mile and are very in­ter­ested in work­ing for them.

Pre­pare your sales pitch.

De­velop a suc­cinct an­swer to the re­quest, “Tell me about your­self.” By do­ing so, you will max­i­mize your time with the re­cruiter ver­sus stum­bling and tak­ing five min­utes to say the same thing. Tai­lor your state­ment to suit the needs of each em­ployer; don’t spend your time telling them what you want to do or your life his­tory. Fo­cus this state­ment on the value you can of­fer the em­ployer, high­light­ing your core com­pe­ten­cies and pro­vid­ing con­crete ex­am­ples that re­in­force your claims.

Map out your strat­egy.

When you get to the ca­reer fair, find out where each com­pany of in­ter­est is ex­hibit­ing, and map out a strat­egy to visit each booth. Don’t be dis­cour­aged if you see long lines. If you need to, re­turn to a crowded ex­hibit at a more con­ve­nient time, keep­ing a list of the ex­hibitors you have vis­ited so you don’t leave the fair for­get­ting to speak to one of your prospects.

Ask for busi­ness cards.

Upon clos­ing your dis­cus­sion with each hir­ing man­ager, po­litely ask for his or her busi­ness card so you can fol­low up on the op­por­tu­nity with a sec­ond copy of your re­sume and a phone call.

Dress for the job you want.

Even though a ca­reer fair of­ten seems less for­mal than an in­di­vid­ual in­ter­view, you should still take the time to dress for the job you want. Take this op­por­tu­nity to put your best foot for­ward, both on pa­per and in per­son. Re­mem­ber, you are es­sen­tially go­ing on an in­ter­view and com­pet­ing against hun­dreds of oth­ers, so take the time to dress well to make a great first im­pres­sion.

By pre­par­ing your­self for the ca­reer fair, you will make the most of this op­por­tu­nity, en­gage your­self in a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment and bet­ter equip your­self for fu­ture in­ter­views.

Saman­tha Nolan

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