Job seekers attend fairs hoping to gain face-to-face access to prospective employers in ways that their e-mailed resumes cannot. The big problem is that too many people attend job fairs, career expos, whatever you want to call them, without a plan. They stumble blindly around, talking to a few participants, and even ignore booths with little or no traffic. That’s like snubbing an interview. If you make the effort to attend, work the room!
Most fairs publicize exhibitors’ names beforehand. Study the names in advance. Research their websites. Check out existing job posts – do any interest you? Read recent press releases. Check out openings on the sites’ careers page. Have a game plan and a list of your Top 10 companies and meet everyone, especially your targets.
Bring a good supply of quality, printed resumes, even if you previously e-mailed one. Paper resumes – everything old is new again – who knew? Attach a colored paperclip or a dot sticker to your resume when you hand it to booth personnel. As you meet the rep, say, “I’ve made it easier for you to remember me: I’m the one with the blue dot in the corner.”
Before approaching a target company, study the booth from afar. Is candidate traffic too heavy for you to have a chance to talk? Pick your moment. When you do, smile warmly, shake hands and address them with a purpose. Ask what they are recruiting for, and mention any interesting openings you saw on their website while doing your pre-event homework. Most importantly, get the business card of that day’s representative and ask for the name of the colleague handling your area of interest.
Afterward, don’t wait to be called. Send a personal thank you, by e-mail or regular mail. Send one to everyone you met that day. Find them online and connect with them on LinkedIn; once you connect, check to see if they are connected to people who might also benefit your career; do you have mutual connections? Contact your leads and open with a line such as, “Last Wednesday, I met your associate, Jane Doe, at the XYZ Job Fair. Jane gave me your name as the person I should contact about…” then indicate your qualifications, skills and background. Attach or include a resume. Call or email in several days to follow up.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. LLoyd participates in many job fairs annually. One memorable candidate stood in front of our table and said he wanted to take a selfie with our reps and they obliged. The next day he sent them the selfie in an email and said he hoped he too could soon become a member of the #LLoydEmployed (our hashtag for our workforce) and would be posting it on his social media. He figured out a way to stand out and get noticed for his self motivation – he got put on a temp assignment the next week.
Plan your calendar – here are some Job Fairs LLoyd Long Island will be attending over the next few months. Hope to see you or a job hunter you know at one of them!