Job fairs have changed. No longer are they productive events where hiring managers are empowered to hire on the spot. Reductions in the workforce and limited resources often have companies attending “for show” only. As a serious job seeker, it’s important to effectively utilize your job search hours. The challenge is to make the most of a job fair so that it does not become a waste of time by attending. Here is what you need to do:
Prior to attending the job fair, make sure you have all of your documentation in order. There is nothing worse than standing in front of a recruiter fumbling through paper trying to grab a dog-eared copy of your resume. Have copies of your resumes each neatly separated in a plastic sleeve. Neatness counts and your resume will stand out from the hundreds in the pile.
Have your elevator speech tailored for any potential recruiter you may meet. Doing some research ahead of time will help. Knowing which employers will be present will help you to determine what skills you want focus on.
Scope out the employers – Don’t rush and jump on the first line you see. Walk around the entire area and see which employers are attending. Beware if you notice a lot of companies looking for sales people. This is particularly true for insurance companies. Unless your goal is to get a job selling insurance, make these employers your last stop. Companies tend to bring a lot of sales people on board to cover territories. The problem is the majority of the sales jobs are commission-based. Sales companies will often oversaturate a market making it difficult to earn commission.
Stand back and observe a few of your top choices. Listen as the recruiter’s talk to other attendees. Is the company really hiring? Sometimes companies will attend a job fair, not because they are hiring, but to build a database of potential applicants. If the company is not actually hiring, determine if you need to spend time talking with them at this particular job fair.
As you wait for the recruiter, make use of your time by watching and listening. Watch the recruiter to determine their body language. Do they seem easy going and friendly? Are they taking their time with each candidate? Do they seem rushed and not focused? Tailor any response you have to their style. If they are rushed, make sure you have your thirty second elevator speech down to perfection.
Today’s job fairs are a lot different today then job fairs past. Larger crowds, fewer jobs all combine to make it necessary that you utilize your attendance wisely.