The idea of looking for a job is scary for most college grads, and rightfully so. For almost 15 years of your life you’ve been responsible for one big thing: your grades. Now, you’re responsible for your student loan debt, paying bills, finding a job, and in general, being an adult. Welcome to the real world. It’s a shocker at first, but you’ll get used to it.
Many authorities, including college counselors and human resources specialists, would highly recommend attending job fairs. This is a brilliant idea. What’s better than going to one place and meeting prospective employers who you can get to know in a less formal setting than an interview? Job fairs can be wonderful, especially if you have a glowing personality to help you navigate from booth to booth. Strike up a conversation, and let people know who you are.
The following six tips will help you get through each job fair with flying colors, and hopefully one step closer to finding your dream job:
1. Prepare Your Resumé
Have plenty of copies ready. Take it one step further by putting them in a pocket folder. If you have business cards (highly recommended, even for recent graduates), get the folders that accommodate them. You never know when you’ll be asked for your resumé, so be ready to distribute them.
You should know which types of businesses will be at the job fair. If you have various job interests and strengths to reflect your skills, produce several different versions of your resumé for each type of job. This way, you’ll have all of your bases covered and will be one step ahead of the next candidate.
2. Know Your Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is about 30 seconds long. Sometimes that’s all you’ll have and all you’ll need to make the right first impression. This is when you let employers know who you are and how you would be an asset to their company. That’s it, short and sweet.
3. Research the Employers
Just as you wouldn’t attend a job interview knowing nothing about the employer, neither would you attend a job fair in such fashion. Take a look at the job fair website to formulate a game plan. What type of industries, and which employers will be present?
Research the companies and understand what they do so you can have intelligent conversations with the ones you approach. They may have job postings right there on their website. This would be a great time to talk to one of their representatives about the job, let them know your interest, and ask for more insight into the position. It’s also a great idea to make a priority list of who you’ll want to target first, second, etc. This way you’ll hit the employers most important to you at the get go.
4. Arrive Early
The earlier the better. You want first dibs on employers so you can set the standard high, as well as set a lasting impression. Think about it this way: the later you arrive, the more people will be there, hence more competition to get your elevator speech working for you.
Moreover, just like with everything else, the later in the day it is, the more tired everyone is, so the less energy either party will put into a brief chat. However, no matter how tired YOU may be, put as much energy into your mini meeting as possible. This is your first impression, so do what you can to have an opportunity for a second one.
Be enthusiastic above all else. Employers want to see someone energetic, not sluggish. Show up early, plain and simple. Upside: you get it out of the way and spend the rest of the day doing what you really want to do: playing video games on the couch.
5. Dress to Impress
Business attire is your best bet. Gentlemen and ladies should wear suits. Ladies will also look nice in a suit jacket and skirt, or a suit jacket and dress. Remember, it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You may be a top-notch candidate, but if you show up looking sloppy, you won’t leave a good impression. Many won’t even take you seriously.
6. Follow Up
Don’t forget to ask for business cards, especially from the employers you’re really interested in working for/with. You’ll gain a competitive edge by following up your meeting at the job fair with an email, or typed letter through snail mail, stating what a pleasure it was to meet them, your interest in the job (and perhaps your 30 second elevator pitch in written format), and a thank you for their consideration.
If you had a memorable moment, such as a funny experience, or something else that would remind them of who you were at the booth, include it. The follow-up will solidify you as a candidate in their mind. You never know, if they like you and someone else equally, this type of communication can tip the balance in your favor.
Have you been to a job fair recently? Please share your tips with us on our Facebook page!