Lately, I've noticed more and more job fairs being advertised in my local paper. It seems that these job cattle calls are still popular with companies and job seekers alike. Although I've never met anyone who had been hired by a recruiter at a job fair, I'm told that it happens all the time. Still, I have spoken to many people who have said that the job fair was more of a networking opportunity than a place to get hired.
The interesting thing about job fairs is that they give employers the chance to get some good publicity and make it known that they are hiring. Job seekers also get the opportunity to find out about job openings and companies. They can network with other job seekers, recruiters and even make connections with human resource personnel. All in all, if you're looking for a job, attending a job fair can be worth your time.
When you go, you'll want to dress as professionally as you would if you were going to an interview. In addition, you should bring several copies of your resume and some business cards. Even if you don't have a job currently, you should still print out some business card that have your name and contact information on them. These cards will make it easier to share your information with the people you meet.
There are many things you can do at a job fair that will help further your chances of finding a great job. However, there are some things you just really shouldn't do. Here are 4 of them:
Don't come in a group - It's tempting to find a few friends to go to the job fair with, but they will only slow you down. You wouldn't go to a job interview with a couple of friends, so don't bring them to the job fair. When you approach an employer's table with a group of friends, you will give the impression that you are insecure and lack confidence. Hardly the impression you want to make. If you really want to bring a friend, go your separate ways during the fair and then meet up later.
Don't waste time asking basic questions - The job fair isn't the time to ask questions about what the company does or what the salary range is for the positions. The answers can be found through some basic research. If you know which companies will be at the fair, you should have done that research ahead of time in order to stand out as a serious candidate. Keep in mind that this isn't the time to interview the company. Your main goal at these events is to give a recruiter a copy of your resume and make a good impression. Think of it as a meet and greet rather than a traditional interview.
Don't ask for contact information - When talking with a company representative, don't ask them for their contact information. If they want you to have it, they will offer it. However, when you are talking with other job fair attendees, don't hesitate to ask. A job fair is a great opportunity to network with other job seekers but asking recruiters for their information can come across as pushy.
Don't try to blend in - It's tempting to try to blend in at a job fair and act like everyone else. Most people come in not knowing much about who is going to be there and they spend their time passing out copies of their resume. Instead of trying to blend in, make yourself stand out. Find out who will be there, do your research and customize your resume for each of the companies you're interested in. Plan your strategy ahead of time and show a genuine interest.
Have you attended a job fair recently? Do you think that they are a good way to find a job? Please share your thoughts in the comments.