In this online age, when it seems so easy to job search and even network on the Internet, it is rare to have an opportunity to meet a potential employer face-to-face. Job Fairs are a one of those few occasions when employers make themselves available to meet, greet, answer questions and develop an impression of a job searcher that goes beyond simple words on a resume. A number of opportunities regularly happen in Toronto including, The Canada Job Expo and The National Job Fair. Each of these is an excellent opportunity to get yourself noticed and possibly even hired.
As exciting as these opportunities may be, they can also be quite unnerving. But as the expression goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So, instead of just hoping to be lucky, here are some tips to prepare for the job fair and make the most of this opportunity:
- Read through information you have about the Fair, especially noting the names of interesting employers and gathering information about them from the Internet. Plan your visit by deciding who you will be seeking out first, though it would be good to meet as many employers as possible.
- Write out a script that briefly outlines what you would like to tell employers about yourself, including your background (experience, education), skills, accomplishments and career goals. Practice until you have it memorized and sounding natural. Think of examples to illustrate your strengths, which you could share if asked.
- Make sure to have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated, complete and professional.
- Bring a well organised binder that includes multiple copies of your resume, as well as writing paper, a pen and your appointment calendar/smartphone.
- You may also want to consider preparing and bringing calling cards, which include your name, email, phone number, your LinkedIn profile address and a few brief lines listing the best and most relevant of your skills.
- Another item worth bringing is a portfolio-type folder which includes samples of your work, letters of recommendation and thanks from employers and customers, your reference list (which you will not give an employer unless they express interest in considering you for a position) and anything else you could show to an interested employer (Some people even bring mini portfolios which they could leave with employers).
On the day, dress as you would for a job interview and make a point to arrive early. Switch off your cell phone as you go in. Approach employers confidently — make eye contact, smile, shake hands and express an interest in what they do. Be patient and persistent, and prepared to answer questions and make conversation. Collect business cards and offer to stay in contact.
After the event, send thank you letters to those employers who met with you and expressed an interest. This will reinforce the positive impression you made at the Fair.
As with all aspects of the job search process, some preparation and effort might go a long way toward improving your luck. Contacts made at a Job Fair might present you with the opportunities necessary to widen your professional network, raise your profile and perhaps even change your future.