12 Great Job Fair Tips: How to Show Employers the Right Stuff
You have 7 seconds to make a good first impression with an employer at a job fair. If you show the right stuff you are much more likely to land the job you want. So what’s the right stuff? A little advice from our employment specialists at Friday Services can help you make the most of those first 7 seconds!
As Western North Carolina’s leading staffing agency, we have been to a lot of local job fairs. Just this month the Friday Services team talked to over 300 job seekers at the Asheville Regional Chamber of Commerce Homecoming Job Fair at the WNC Ag Center. We’ve seen good examples of what works and what doesn’t. To help you in your own employment search, we’ll share with you some of our top tips on how to impress employers at job fairs and boost your chances of getting hired.
1. Do your research before the job fair and make a plan.
Find out which employers are going to be at the fair before the event (this is usually posted online). Pick the ones you want to work for and do some research about those companies. On the day of the job fair, find those employers’ booths first. Be ready to give recruiters specific reasons why you want to join their teams.
2. Have a sales pitch ready to go.
Before the day of the event, prepare a 15 to 30 second sales pitch that tells employers who you are and why they should hire you. If you were stuck in an elevator with the person making the hiring decisions, what would you tell them? As you talk to different employers, change the pitch to be specific to the job that is being offered. Include info about any relevant educational achievements, skills, and job experiences that make you qualified for the job they are hiring for.
3. Bring a bag, satchel, or briefcase with you.
You’ll have a neat place to carry your resumes. Your hands will be free—so you can shake hands easily. And you will have a place to store brochures and business cards that will help you remember something about each employer.
4. Bring plenty of resumes.
Make sure that you have lots of up-to-date copies of your resume to hand to employers. Recruiters typically talk to hundreds of job seekers during fairs. If you don’t have a resume, chances are you won’t be remembered. A resume also allows an employer to glance over your experience and find out right away if you might be a good fit for their company. Make sure your resume is clean and unwrinkled. Handing out a crumpled piece of paper can be worse than having no resume at all (because it gives an bad impression of you they will definitely remember).
5. Have several different versions of your resume ready to go.
If you are looking for jobs in different industries, or for jobs that require different skillsets in the same industry—prepare several resumes, one that is specific to each type of job you want to apply for. A specific resume is much more impressive than a generic one.
For example, if you have done a variety of clerical jobs create a resume for each type of job you have experience in: a customer service resume, an administrative assistant resume, a data entry resume, a call center resume…etc. Don’t tell recruiters you have prepared different resumes, just hand out the most appropriate resume for the type of job that employer is offering.
6. Smile, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake.
It’s not just what you say that makes an impression. Employers are more likely to think that you are friendly, interested, and self-confident if you shake hands, smile, and make good eye contact.
7. Keep each conversation short and sweet.
Don’t talk longer than you have to when you talk to a recruiter. Make your pitch and then move on. Be polite, and don’t talk about anything other than the company and the job that they are hiring for. Don’t talk about your personal life or anything other than the job.
8. Dress appropriately.
Don’t dress too casually. You might be the most qualified person at the career fair for a particular job, but if you don’t look like you are taking things seriously, then the employer will not take you seriously. The woman at the job fair wearing her pajamas will not be remembered for her skills or experience. Don’t overdress either (the man in the tuxedo is just as out of place as the person in the PJs). Business casual is usually a safe choice for clothing. Generally, for men that means black or khaki pants (no jeans) and a collared shirt. For women, that usually means dress pants or a knee-length skirt and a blouse or collared shirt.
9. Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume.
Strong odors will make you memorable for the wrong reasons (for this same reason you should also avoid smoking before or during the event).
10. Don’t send someone else to hand out resumes for you.
Chances are strong that the man who sent his wife to the job fair with a stack of his resumes did not get a job.
11. Make sure the phone number on your resume is the right one!
If an employer tries to call you back and the person who answers says, “wrong number,” you are not getting a job. Also a “cell phone is no longer in service” message looks bad. If you have an old number on a resume and don’t have time to print new copies, cross out the old number and write the new one in. Try to avoid this if at all possible!
12. Keep a record of every company you give resumes to at the job fair.
If you gave out 50 resumes at the job fair then you should be ready to get up to 50 phone calls in return. Of course it is doubtful you will hear from every employer you spoke to, but it is better to be prepared. Make sure you keep a list of every single employer you gave a resume to so you can know who might be calling you back. “Who is this?” is not the response you want to give to someone who wants to offer you a job interview.
If you have the time, take a notebook and write down the name of the person you spoke with and their job title. Take notes about the job or the company. That information can help you make a better impression during interviews too!
We hope these tips help you prepare for and achieve more success at your next job fair. If we missed seeing you at the recent fair, or if you are simply on the job hunt, it is not too late to apply for placement with Friday Services. We are always looking for candidates to place in professional, administrative, industrial, and technical jobs right here in Western North Carolina. Take a look at some of the local job opportunities we are seeking candidates for, or apply online today.