Job Hunting Tips
Melanie didn't really want to go to the job fair, but the career counselor was adamant. Melanie needed to get out there and network her way into a new job. She could no longer wait passively for replies to the hundreds of resumes she had sent out six months ago.
Job fairs are not limited to new graduates at college and university campuses. These well-attended events also attract seasoned professionals, retirees and the unemployed. To find the nearest job fair, visit Carousel Expo for a comprehensive listing of job fairs throughout the country. Simply click on your state and scroll down to the present month.
At a job fair, attendees have the opportunity to meet with many employers in a short period of time. While the competition is stiff, it is possible for a job seeker to strategically improve his or her odds of obtaining a second interview. Consider the following tips:
Do Your Homework
Obtain a list of companies that will be represented at the job fair. Research those that interest you, learning as much as you can about their products and services, mission statements, and company cultures. Ensure that you are well-informed before attending the fair; do not depend upon the company literature available at the different booths. You will not be able to access that information until after the interview.
If you are interested in applying for out-of-state or international positions, research the state or country. Be prepared to give reasons why you wish to relocate. Do not simply say, "I will go wherever the jobs are."
Prepare Your Resume
Update your resume and ask a trusted friend or relative to proofread the document for spelling and grammatical errors. Double-check the information bits in the header, especially the mailing address, telephone number and email address.
Reread the work, education, and volunteer sections. Use the information from these sections to prepare accomplishment stories that clearly demonstrate your skill set. Write out these stories and practice delivering them in mock interviews.
Prepare multiple copies of your resume, at least two for each targeted company. You should also bring scannable versions of your resume. Many recruiters are taking their stacks of resumes back to the corporate office and scanning them into a database. Carry your resumes in a professional case or satchel.
Practice Your Elevator Speech
Rehearse a personal introduction that allows you to summarize your most significant qualifications and achievements in the time span of an elevator ride. When meeting with a recruiter, do not immediately hand over your resume. Instead, use your elevator speech to introduce yourself and then ask a pertinent question or two about the organization.
Plan Your Visit
When you arrive, survey the layout of the fair and determine an interviewing order. Whenever possible, meet with your top choices first thing in the morning. If you are faced with long lines at a particular booth, move on to the other companies on your list.
Eat properly, exercise and get adequate rest before attending the fair. You only have a few minutes to impress each representative. He/she will not be impressed by a tired, haggard individual who appears to be going through the motions. During the day, take frequent breaks and have easy-to-eat snacks.
Dress codes will vary from one fair to another. While some require business attire, others are business casual. If you are applying for a professional or executive position, wear a black, brown or blue suit in a solid or pinstripe with a white shirt or blouse. If business casual is more appropriate, wear nice slacks or a skirt with a collared shirt or blouse. Avoid cologne or perfume, flashy ties and accessories, and uncomfortable shoes.
Connect With Each Recruiter
Greet the representative with a firm handshake, show enthusiasm and maintain eye contact throughout the entire conversation. Take time to make a positive impression and obtain additional information about the organization. Do not aim to drop off a set number of resumes; focus on establishing solid job prospects. Take notes after each conversation; this will avoid confusion later.
Ask for the interviewer's business card before leaving the booth. Follow up with a thank-you letter within 24 hours of the job fair. In the letter, thank the recruiter for his/her time, restate your qualifications for the position, and reiterate your interest in a second interview. Enclose another copy of your resume. When you follow up in this manner, you demonstrate a high level of courtesy and respect. This gives you a definite edge over the candidates who do not send thank-you letters.
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