Thursday, September 3, 2009

Market Yourself at The Career Fair

Career fairs all have one common theme: it's a chance for companies to meet and screen a large volume of potential job candidates. Whether you're a fresh graduate new to the job-search process or a seasoned professional, you would want to strategically position yourself above many of the other job-seekers attending the fair. Keep in mind that career fairs are only just one small part of your entire job search process. However, if managed well, they can actually get you on route to your dream job. By following these strategies, you can improve your odds of not being screened out and should lead to increase your chances of obtaining a second interview. Here is some advice on how to maximize your time at the career fair.

5 Things to Take to the Career Fair
  • Copies of your resume (20 to 30 depending on the size of the event). Be sure it represents your knowledge, skills, and abilities effectively. Bring at least two for each company for which you have an interest in. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, make sure you bring enough of each version of your resume. You should also bring versions of your resumes that can be scanned.
  • A smile, a strong handshake, and a positive attitude. First impressions are vital. Approach an employer, smile, and offer your hand when you introduce yourself.
  • A 30-second promo line. Hand the recruiter a copy of your resume and be prepared to expand on it real quick! Share basic information about yourself and your career interests and it should go something like this: "Hello, I'm Shirley. I'm a senior here at Genius University and I'm majoring in English. I'm very interested in a marketing career. As you can see on my resume, I've just completed an internship in the Marketing Division of the DB Company in KL. I've also taken some courses in business marketing and I'm very interested to talk to you about marketing opportunities with your organization."
  • Information about the participating organizations. Gather all necessary information about the company and the job you desire. To maximize the brief time you have with each employer, you need to know how your skills and interests match their needs. And don't just concentrate on the heavyweights. There are often great opportunities with companies which you are not familiar with.
  • Energy and strategy! Career fairs require you to be on your feet moving from table to table for an hour or so. Each time you meet someone, be at your best, as refreshed as possible. You also need to devise a strategy or plan of attack for the fair. We suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time.
5 Things Not to Do at the Career Fair
  • Don't cruise the booths with a group of friends. Interact with the recruiters on your own. Make your own positive impression!

  • Don't carry your backpack, large purse, or other belongings with you. Carry your resume in a professional-looking folder or in a small briefcase. It will keep your resume neat and handy, and give you a place to file business cards of recruiters you meet.

  • Don't under dress. Conservative business attire is essential. Know what the expected attire of your profession is and dress accordingly because a career fair is a professional activity--perhaps your first contact with a future employer.

  • Don't wing it with employers. Do your homework! Research the companies just as you would for an interview. You'll be able to tell on why you want to work for the organization and what you can do for them.

  • Don't turn up late, especially during the last half hour of the event. Some employers may have come a long distance to attend the fair and may need to leave early. If you come late, you may miss the organizations you wanted to contact!
5 Things to Take Home From the Career Fair
  • Business cards from the recruiters you have met. Use the cards to write follow-up notes to those organizations which interest you the most because career fairs are all about networking. You can also network with your fellow job-seekers in terms of sharing information about job leads.

  • Notes about contacts you made. Take paper and pen with you to write down important details about particular organizations, including names of people who may not have business cards. Take a few minutes after you leave each table to jot down these notes.

  • Information about organizations you have contacted. Most recruiters will have information for you to pick up, including company brochures, CDs, position descriptions, and other data. You won't have time to deal with these at the fair!

  • A better sense of your career options. If you have used the event correctly, you will have made contact with several organizations that hire people with your skills and interests. In thinking about their needs and your background, evaluate whether each company might be a match for you.

  • Self-confidence in interacting with employer representatives. A career fair should have given you ample opportunity to practice your interview skills in a less formidable environment rather than a formal interview.
So gear yourselves up and come to the fair -- prepared! Your dream job may just be right there.