The fall semester has begun and it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming job fairs.
Studies show these events not only help students and recent graduates grow professionally, they are also a great way to obtain an internship or a job. They allow job seekers to interact with community leaders and business professionals who can offer them opportunities which may not be advertised publicly. They also provide a chance to network and learn about prospective companies. Here are a few ways to prepare for your job fair and stand out among your peers.
Before the Job Fair
Always register ahead of time for the event. Do your research on which companies will be represented and where you want to spend most of your time. Arrive with multiple copies of your resume. It should emphasize important soft skills as well as your education and experience. Bring a portfolio to carry the copies and, when applicable, include examples of your work. Have a pen and paper handy to take notes. Prepare a brief introduction speech highlighting strengths and qualities which demonstrate your value.
Wear the Right Outfit
Dress professionally, but comfortably. When you are uncomfortable in your outfit, it will show in your body language and demeanor. Wear shoes that are professional but you can stand in without shifting from side to side because you’re a getting a blister. Your suit should be wrinkle-free and not ill-fitted. Skirts should not be shorter than two inches above the knee. Many recruiters carry a checklist to evaluate your confidence, professionalism, communication skills, enthusiasm and dress attire.
Make the Most of Your Time
Initiate the conversation with recruiters by introducing yourself with your first and last name. Utilize the name tag given to you at check-in. Be cautiously assertive. Don’t interrupt other job seekers during a conversation but make a point of meeting as many people as possible. Extend your hand for a handshake, speak clearly and maintain eye contact. Eliminate filler words such as “um” and “like” which are noticeable and distracting. Make a point of letting the recruiter know why you are interested in working for their specific company. Ask the recruiter questions: the future of the industry, what they are looking for in a good employee, the hiring process and request their permission to follow up. Avoid questions about salaries and benefits.
Your goal is to gather information and business cards from those you meet. Spend enough time with recruiters to build a connection but not so much that they remember you as monopolizing them. Visit with fellow job seekers and make positive connections with peers. They may know and share opportunities with you which you may not have been aware of otherwise.
Circle Back Around
After the job fair, send a professional email or note card to each recruiter within 48 hours of the event. Thank him or her for taking the time to meet with you, include details of your conversation and remind them of your qualifications. Make sure to include your contact information. Consider both an email and a handwritten note. Email is obviously the most timely and efficient; however, the written word is a nice touch in an electronic age.
Research, preparation, confidence and a positive attitude are keys to a successful job fair experience. Even if the event does not directly result in a job, you will gain training, experience, insight and networking skills.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy 6 Things Confident People Don’t Do. Read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.