Attending a job fair is one of best ways to make job connections. Meet possible future employers, build a reputation and a recognisable face within the industry and city you are based in, and lastly, share and learn valuable information and industry tips and tricks. The opportunities and benefits are endless, the key to success is not only managing where you will spend your time but preparing a communication strategy in advance to make the best impression. Visualise a job fair as a large networking event where employers are there with real positions, looking for the most qualified or able candidates. Therefore, create a strategy based around this visualisation and remember that with all networking, the quality of your discussions and who you meet will far outweigh the number of times you hand out your business card or get formally introduced to a manager. Quality over quantity!
Most candidates find it challenging to talk about their background within a short time frame, especially with possible competition standing right behind you. The truth? Recruiters can tell apart a candidate who is self-aware of their strengths compared to those who show up at the last minute unprepared and hoping to influence the interviewer.
So, now that you feel like you are the least prepared person out there to attend a job fair. Read over the tips and tricks below, and become a networking expert in no time!
• Personal introductions should last one or two minutes. The goal is to share enough information to generate attention from the recruiter without losing them in unimportant details such as explaining gaps in employment, or every little internship you took during your undergraduate. Save the details for a later date and a more formal interview setting.
• Know your “why” when talking about your value to recruiters. Why was the company better off with you being there? Why do you want to work for this employer? Why should they hire you instead of the countless other applicants?
• Impress the recruiter by having a direction to your search. It is difficult to stand out from the crowd when you are looking for any job, don’t make the mistake of thinking a recruiter will help you with your career direction. They are not your career mentors and have a job to do. You arriving confused doesn’t aid them in this job, and therefore sets off warning signals right from the start, as the type of candidate they will view you as.
• Going back to the “why”. Remember when talking about your background, to use facts to back up your accomplishments. Since no two people have the same facts, you will stand out in a memorable way.
• Lastly? Persistence pays off! Follow up with everyone that you met. If you have their contact details already, send them a quick email saying “thank you”, and extending your contact details or perhaps an updated electronic version of your CV. Another good way to go about this would be to find them on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to follow-up, managers and recruiters are busy people. The best solution would be to clarify the next steps in the line of communication. Should you send them an updated CV? Should you contact them at a specific time when the recruitment begins? Or perhaps look at their career page on a monthly basis and apply directly through there, once something comes up?
All industries, companies, and countries are different. They have different norms, follow-up procedures and ways to go about the overall world of recruitment. The best advice out of all of this? Practice makes perfect! Begin attending career fairs at a young age, and use them as a form of training. By the time you enter the job market as a serious candidate, you will have built up a good network of connections and confidence to allow you to succeed.