Standing out at your next job fair might seem like a monumental task...
You're probably going to find yourself piled into a packed auditorium, vying with hundreds of other job seekers to have a few minutes of a recruiter's time. But there are some ways to help you stand out and make the most out of your day.
It's crucial that you can show up prepared, ready to face the day, and know what it takes to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Check out some of our best tips below to help you navigate your next career event.
Before the event
1. Know who is going to be there
To help you make the most out of the event, you should be able to access a list of all the employers and companies that are going to be in attendance. This will help you understand who you'd like to connect with, or learn more about, and allow you to manage your time effectively.
And while a career fair is a good time to learn about companies, you should know a little about them before showing up. You’ll be able to ask deeper questions and get better information if you already have some background to work with.
So before you go, do some research about each company on your priority list and be prepared to tailor your conversations specifically to each recruiter.
2. Pack some essentials
What should you bring to a career fair? Not much.
You don't need to rock up with a heavy briefcase or a rucksack full of documents. All you really need is a simple folder with enough copies of your resume to hand over to some of your top employers. Make sure you also bring along some snacks and a water bottle to stay energized throughout the day.
Bring along a few pens with a notepad to write down anything you'd like to remember about a certain employer or vacancy and you should be good to go.
3. Dress for success - and comfort
You'll be happy to know there's no formal dress code at career events, but you should still try to dress semi-smartly. You don't need to overdo it with a full-on suit and tie, but a simple shirt and blazer are a good staple to rely on.
The biggest thing to remember is that you're going to be on your feet for most of the day, so comfort is a priority. Ditch any heels or uncomfortable shoes and go for some flats that will allow you to keep moving.
During the event
4. Don't be afraid to approach recruiters directly
As you approach each table, be friendly, confident, and prepared with something to say. Introduce yourself with a smile, eye contact, and a brief, firm handshake. Often, the recruiter will take the lead and ask you questions, but you should also make sure you ask any questions that you may have for them.
Starting off with a good elevator pitch about your experience and the kinds of roles you're interested in will help to position you as a strong candidate and give a purpose to your conversation. To really use your time wisely, you should be able to concisely convey why you’re interested in the particular company and how your skills or qualifications suit the position.
5. Get your resume in their hands
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is not giving out their resume until the end of the meeting—at this point, the recruiter may have gotten interrupted or moved on to someone else. Instead, as you speak about yourself, hand your resume to the recruiter, and use it to support what you're telling the recruiter.
Point out specific experiences that are on your CV and expand on them during your conversation. This will ensure you stand out from the sea of faces and give you the best chance of connection.
6. Leave them with a good impression
You want the person you’re speaking with to know you’re interested in his or her company. So, ask relevant questions—and also be sure to ask about the next steps. When the conversation is wrapping up, make sure to thank the person you’re speaking with for her time. Most importantly, request a business card to keep track of them.
You can use this card to reach back out in the future, and also connect via social media.
After the event
7. Follow up with a "thank you"
Following up after the event with a simple "thank you" email will help you to stand out, as it'll give you the opportunity to show your genuine interest and appreciation for the recruiter. It's also a great way to continue any conversations that you had during the event and stay fresh in the recruiter's mind if any opportunities pop up in the future.
8. Take action
For the companies you are interested in, follow the recruiter’s instructions about applying for a position. If you need to submit your resume online, do so within a few days of the event so that you’re still fresh in the company’s mind.
And if there’s not a position available right now that’s a good fit, ask the recruiter if you can come in for an informal interview.