With more employers attending virtual career fairs than ever before, it is crucial to have a plan in place to navigate job expos. As a great place to network, speak with recruiters, and meet other job seekers, job fairs have immense value. While similar to preparing for a job interview, job fairs have a couple additional steps one needs to take in preparation.
Here are six steps one should follow as they get ready for their next job expo. These steps apply to virtual and in-person career expos.
1. Do Your Research
Whether it is creating your resume, preparing for an interview, or attending a job fair, research is crucial for success. Begin by visiting the job fair’s website to view the list of companies attending. From there, start researching all the companies in attendance by reading their mission statement, recent success stories, company failures, and the descriptions on their open positions.
Also, try to find out what recruiters will be in attendance. You can read about them on the company website or connect with them ahead of time on LinkedIn. You can message them saying that you will be attending the fair and look forward to meeting with them. Not only will this make you stand out above the other candidates, but it will help you gain an idea of who you will be talking to and their expertise level.
2. Create an Action Plan:
After you have identified and learned about the companies, it is time to create an action plan. Your action plan should include:
- A list of the companies you want to speak with. They should be organized from highest to lowest priority.
- A rough schedule devoting 10 to 15 minutes to each company you plan to talk to.
An added tip is to try narrowing the companies you want to speak with by picking companies whose mission aligns with your goals and values. Creating an action plan ensures that you do not waste time speaking to only one or two companies or time speaking with companies who don’t match your interests.
3. Gather Important Documents
One should never enter a job expo without their resume and business card in hand. As you talk to different recruiters, you want to have something to give everyone you talk to. This gives recruiters a way to contact you and keep you in mind for their open roles.
When getting your resume ready, be sure to have multiple different versions of your resume for the various companies. For example, you could have worked in a company specializing in IT but are applying to a company specializing in engineering. This is where you would adjust your resume to match the engineering company to appear as a more desirable qualified candidate. This step should be taken for all the different companies you plan to speak with.
Be sure to have a professional “2 x 3.5” business card with your name and contact information printed ahead of time. It is also helpful to include the link to your LinkedIn profile, so employers can connect with you online and learn more about your experience.
In addition, Forbes advises leaving an open space somewhere on your card for recruiters to take any notes. Even outside of job fairs, carry your business card with you because you never know when the chance to connect with someone will happen.
If the career fair is online, make sure you get the recruiters’ email immediately to send them your resume and contact information.
4. Perfect Your Pitch
As you approach a recruiter, be ready with your 60-second elevator pitch to make an outstanding first impression that will make you stand out from the rest. Make sure you pitch who you are, your specializations, and why you are a qualified candidate for their open roles. Additionally, you want to leave the pitch open towards the end to lead into a short conversation. As soon as you sign up for the job fair, begin to work on your pitch immediately, as it can take some time to nail down.
5. Be Ready with Questions
Similar to a job interview, be ready with questions to ask the hiring manager. As you will be speaking to many individuals throughout the day, try to have a list of universal questions to ask, so you are never caught off-guard. These questions can focus on learning more about the company, the recruiter, or their open positions.
Examples of universal questions include:
- What are some benefits of working at your company?
- Is there room for growth?
- What do you look for in candidates?
- Can you tell me about your history with the company?
- What is the day-to-day company culture like?
Having these questions ready to go is essential in narrowing down if this company is the right fit for you.
6. Follow-up after the Job Fair
While this step is not taken in preparation before the job fair, it is essential to follow these steps through to the end. During the fair, be deliberate in collecting the contact information from all the individuals you spoke to. The following day, reach out to all the recruiters you have met and thank them for their time. It is wise to include what you enjoyed speaking about and ask to please keep you in mind for any future job openings or state why you feel like you are a great fit for the job discussed at the time. While today, fewer people are sending out thank you notes, they still are important to send as they show respect and gratitude to the recruiter.
Navigating the job hunt is no easy feat, with 10 million open jobs across the country. However, learning all you can about job hunting, like navigating a job fair, is crucial to landing your dream job.
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