Get the most out of a career fair with these simple steps
There is more competition in the job market today than ever before. This is partly due to the rise in technological advances that has greatly evolved the conventional job-hunting process. Jobseekers can now even apply for jobs online without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes– rendering many job-hunting tactics of the good ol’ days ineffective.
However, despite all of the new tools now widely available to jobseekers, one tool has stood the test of time and still remains as one of the most effective job-hunting tool in a jobseeker’s arsenal till this very day: Career Fairs.
Meeting and interacting with recruiters face to face is still a critical part of the job search process, and career fairs offer jobseekers the unique opportunity to make personal connections that are impossible to achieve just by submitting a resume online.
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing career fairs. Apart from the more obvious tips like having an elevator pitch prepared and dressing well, here are 5 not-so-common tips for you to get the most out of career fairs:
1. Research the list of participating companies
Before attending a career fair, visit the organiser’s website and look at the list of participating companies. From there, shortlist the companies that you are interested in and check what jobs are available on their websites so you won’t end up asking a recruiter what jobs are available in their company and making yourself look unprepared. Remember that recruiters put their credibility on the line every time they hire a candidate and send them along to work with a team. It is unlikely they will risk their credibility by hiring a candidate that didn’t take the effort to know more about their company beforehand.
2. Practice on companies you aren’t really interested in
When you get to the career fair, don’t immediately approach the booths of the companies that you are really interested in just yet. Instead, talk to a few companies in the career fair that you aren’t too interested in first to help ‘warm yourself up’, loosen your tongue, and get you into the rhythm of things. Then, when you eventually feel your confidence rise and nervousness shed away, approach the companies you are interested in. By doing this, you may even accidentally stumble across a great company that you overlooked and never thought would interest you.
3. Listen to everyone around you
If the company booth you’re interested in is a nationally known household name, it will most likely be crowded. You may even find yourself having to line up just to talk to the company’s representative or recruiter. If you do find yourself waiting in line to speak with a recruiter, don’t just stand idly. Instead, make your time count by listening to the conversations between recruiters and other candidates around you. Take note of what they say and how the recruiter responds to their statements or questions– then implement what you hear into your own conversation.
4. Say the right things, ask the right questions
When speaking to a recruiter, do your best to carry the conversation further by asking meaningful questions about the company, the role, and how they like working in the company. Avoid asking questions that can be answered online, or answers that should be asked during the actual interview stage (salary, where the workplace is, etc.). Instead, ask meaningful questions like “Who succeeds in the position you’re hiring for?” or “What would you say is a key characteristic for success in your organisation?”. Then, find a way to link the recruiter’s answer to your skills and background. Remember, the more time you spend talking to them, the more time you have to convince them that you’re smart, capable and personable (that being said, avoid dragging the conversation longer than you need to– they do have other candidates to attend to). Carrying an engaging conversation with a recruiter will help you be memorable– and trust us; when surrounded by thousands of other jobseekers, you want to be memorable.
5. Follow up
We cannot stress enough the absolute importance of following up with a recruiter after a career fair. At the end of the day, regardless of how memorable you may be to a recruiter, you will not be considered for a position if you don’t follow up with a recruiter. Ask for the recruiter’s business card and follow-up with them (the same day or the next day). A simple email after the career fair will do the trick. In the email, take note to remind them who you are and reference something you spoke about, and attach a copy of your resume. Here’s a simple follow-up email template you can follow:
Hi [Recruiter’s/Employer’s Name],
I’m [Your Name], we spoke at the [Name of Career Fair] yesterday about [Something You Spoke About].
Thank you so much for your time at the career fair yesterday. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time and how much I enjoyed learning more about your team and the culture at [Company Name].
I’m very much excited about working with [Company Name] as a [Position you’re applying for]. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for: an opportunity to make a real impact and learn from such an inspiring group of individuals.
I’ve attached a copy of my resume in hopes that you will review my qualifications and consider me for the position of [Position you’re applying for]. That being said, I’d like to once again reiterate my appreciation for the time you took to speak to me, and for your consideration.
I hope to speak to you again soon!
In great anticipation,
At the end of the day, the earlier you begin visiting career fairs, the better. You don’t need to be months away from your graduation to start attending career fairs. You can already begin making relationships at career fairs, even as a freshman. Talk to companies that pique your interest, that you may want to work for in the future after you graduate. Find out their requirements, ask their advice on what skills you should focus on to better your chance of landing a job at their company. Visiting career fairs and speaking to recruiters is an especially useful exercise for those who aren’t quite sure about which career path they’d like to take after graduating.
All the best!