Dear Employment Specialist,
As software developer who recently ended her contract and is looking for work, I was excited to come across a JVS Job Fair that is coming up soon, with some fantastic employers in my field.
I am particularly pleased to have an opportunity to meet hiring professionals face to face and am keen to make the best of this opportunity. Any tips?
Signed: Keen on Job Fairs (KJF)
It’s job fair season, so your timing couldn’t be better to be out there looking for work. This particular fair is excellent, offering candidates opportunities in a range of excellent companies.
You are right about the benefit of an opportunity to meet employers in person. This gives you a chance to impress them beyond your resume – you can show them your wonderful interpersonal skills, communication skills, professionalism, and likability. It can be a tool to build your professional network. You can meet employers in your field, secure job interviews and learn as much as you can about the local labour market (i.e. the job openings available, the workplace culture, and the sector). Sometimes, job seekers can even have an interview on the spot. Though it is unlikely that you will get an actual job offer at the job fair, you can make progress toward getting that job offer, if you do it properly.
Start off with reading the job fair advert very carefully — as you can see on this one, the companies attending are listed. The posting also clearly indicates how to register — in this case, they want to a resume emailed as part of registration. Other times, you might need to buy tickets, or email, or you may just need to show up.
To prepare for the job fair, consider the following:
1. Learn about the companies that will be attending.
Make a list of the companies in which you are interested, and those who are most likely to be hiring in your field, and gather information about them online. Find their websites and read the “about us” page. Maybe even print it out. Look for them on Google, as well as social media. Take some notes about their values, products, projects. Look for job opportunities posted on their site and consider applying to the positions you are interested in. You can bring a record of the application to share with the employer at the job fair.
2. Prepare to market yourself.
Prepare a personal statement — also known as an elevator pitch. This short introduction is a way to express your suitability for working at the company. Have an idea of what you would like to emphasize with different recruiters.
Be ready to talk about yourself — think about what you want to tell the employer about your last job, how it ended and what you have been doing since. Find a way to tell them how your journey brought you to this company and their jobs.
Make sure you have suitable clothes – Find an outfit that you can wear that would make you look as if you were already working at the company. Consider wearing comfortable shoes as you may be on your feet for a couple of hours,
3. Don’t forget your resume.
Make sure your resume is up to date, including your LinkedIn profile. Prepare multiple copies to hand out.
4. Think of questions to ask.
Recruiters will remember your conversation if they feel engaged. Show that you are interested in working for their company by asking about current opportunities, the company’s work culture, and other open-ended questions. You can also discuss some recent positive news in which they were featured. Avoid asking about salary or benefits.
At the Job Fair:
1. Present yourself professionally.
Get there early, neatly dressed, and with your resumes, note paper and questions in a neat folder. Speak and act professionally — offer a firm handshake when you meet the recruiter and make appropriate eye contact. Silence your cell phone and don’t let it interfere with your conversation with employers.
2. Schedule a follow-up appointment, if you can.
Keep in mind that you will not have quality time to discuss your application with a recruiter; that can be done at a formal interview. Job fairs tend to be busy, noisy and fast paced — not a good place for too much detail. At some job fairs, companies prefer making an appointment to speak with a representative following the event. This is an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with the employer, which is something that is really difficult to do at larger events. Find out from the job fair organizer whether appointment slots are available, and arrange to meet recruiters during or after the event.
3. Gather business cards or contact details of employers.
Follow-up is key. After each conversation or meeting with a recruiter, take notes and ask for a business card. If this is not available, get the person’s name, company, job title, and email. Ask permission to connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn.
After the Job Fair:
Write thank you notes.
Consider writing a brief email to those who gave you the most focused attention, to thank them for their time and emphasize your interest in the company. A sample of a thank you letter can be found here https://www.thebalance.com/thank-you-email-after-job-interview-2063958
Good luck with your job search!