Thursday, April 12, 2012

Attending a job fair

In Saturday's paper was an insert for a Career Fair today at the Mayfield Trade Centre.  Usually, I attend these in order to recruit students and graduates to Federal Government Jobs.  Now, I think I will go as a job seeker.

The goal of attending a job fair should be to enlarge your network.  The challenge is that will have a very short time in a busy environment to make a connection with a recruiter.  How to succeed is to be prepared, focus on the initial conversation, secure a secondary conversation, and then initiate a follow-up conversation after the job fair.

Here are some tips for success at a job fair:


1.  Do your research.  Which companies will be represented?  Which jobs are active on their job boards right now? 

2.  Prepare your material, including copies of your resume and business cards. Put the materials in a bag that is well organized and professional

3.  Consider creating cards that feature your on-line presence, including your linked-in profile

4.  Dress professionally.  However, be careful to not let your appearance detract from you.  For instance, wear a suit without a tie or ensure your skirt sits close to your knees. 

5.  Schedule enough time to attend.  You will want to carefully look at each booth and have some meaningful conversations at the fair.


1.  Get a business card if you can with a personal email address.  This will allow you to follow-up & allow you to contact them directly when you are interested in a job with their organization.  You may also see if you can add them to you linked-in connections.

2.  Only take material that you are interested in.  I have seen many people take everything that they can from my table, take a handful of pens, and take brochures only to throw them out in the nearest garbage can.

3.  Engage the recruiters.  Introduce yourself and ask at least one question that you have prepared. Nearly all the material on the table is on the web-site.

4.  Do not monopolize the recruiter.  If a conversation is developing or you have a great interest in the organization, see if the recruiter can step away from the booth at some time and have a coffee with them.

5.  Listen carefully.  There are many distractions at fairs.  You are there to create networks that you can use later.

6.  Consider talking with other attendees.  You never know what kind of networks you can make with other who attends.  They might be invaluable.


1.  Follow-up with whatever you promised you would do.  If you said you would apply on a job, do it.  If you said you would email them, do it.  I have been so frustrated when I meet a great, potential hire then they never send me their resume.

2.  Consider giving something back to the recruiter. You have gained a contact and valuable information but what have they gained?    Can you connect them with someone or share with them an important web-site?

3.  Be respectful.  You should initiate short, brief, and infrequent follow-up conversations.  I have had instances when I could only help someone so much but they kept calling, and calling, and calling, and calling....

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