It has been several years since I've been to a Career Fair. However, there are several things I've picked up while at these functions. There is more preparation than just putting on a suit and bringing zillion copies of your resume. Here are some helpful tips for the Novi Career Fair on Wednesday, May 14:
There are several things you should be doing the weeks leading up to a Career Fair.
1. Schedule an appointment with a career services advisor.
This will give you an opportunity to run through some basic interviewing skills and ask questions about the companies. In many cases, they can steer you in the right direction based on your experience and interests. The advisor may also know what companies are hiring.
2. Review and update your resume.
Make sure it is polished, clean, and concise. Be sure to also include data points. For example: "Increased sales profit by 50% in the last 18 months."
This is much more impactful statement than something very general. It also helps the company representative scan your resume quickly and provides hard evidence that reinforces your statements.
3. Polish your elevator pitch.
The best impression is made within seconds of meeting someone. Know how you want to portray yourself and what your best assets would be to the company. Depending on the company you're meeting, you may want to slightly modify it based on what they're seeking.
4. Have a plan. Do your homework.
Be prepared to answer the question:
"So what do you know about our company?"
If a recruiter asks you this question and your reply is "Um, I don't know," they will turn off automatically and you likely won't get a follow up meeting.
Review the list of employers scheduled at the event, preferably a few days in advance. Make a list of those you want to visit. Research the company and learn basic details about them, such as mission statement, their product/service, number of employees, niche market, etc. Ask your contacts if they know anything about them. The more you know about them, the better off you are during the conversation.
5. Prep your outfit.
Double check your closet that you have everything you need... clean suit, dress shirt, shoes and accessories. Try to do this no later than a week beforehand. This gives you some time if you need to run to the store.
During the event.
1. Check your stock.
Double check what you're carrying into the room. Rooms are usually filled with people. It is best to leave the large purse and briefcase at home. A padfolio and business card holder is nice to carry. It allows room for card collection, pen, resume storage, and company brochures.
Nerves can get the best of us. Smiling and taking a few deep breathes beforehand can calm your anxiousness!
3. Ask questions.
Interacting with the recruiter and asking questions is good. However, try not to start a conversation off with:
"So what positions do you have available?"
Coming up with something more creative can make a better and lasting impression.
4. Ask for a business card.
This is important. You'll be meeting several people and it is critical you get the card. Otherwise you won't have their contact information!
5. Take notes.
Bring a padfolio with you so you can jot some notes down after your meeting. (In many cases you can do this while standing in line for the next company.) If you wait until after the fair, your memory will likely be a little fuzzy.
1. Follow up with your new connections.
Not every company you meet will have a position that is a good match for you. However, it is a good idea to reach out to all them afterwards. Take the time to send them a brief e-mail reinstating your conversation or send a personalized note to connect thru LinkedIn.
2. Keep connected.
If there is an organization you're really interested in, but didn't have opportunities available at the time you met, keep in contact. If they're open to it, invite them for a cup of coffee or schedule an informational interview. The job market is very competitive these days. It may take some creativity and untraditional thinking to get your foot in the door! Your network plays a huge role in landing a job.
What have you found helpful during Career Fairs?
Curious about what else Career Services offers? Watch this short video from Brenda Paine, Director of Career Services.