Friday, January 6, 2012

Job Searching: Job Fairs, Useful or Useless?

Well in true HR fashion, the answer is "it depends." It depends on you the attendee and your attitude and preparedness and it also depends on which businesses are in attendance and their reasons for being there. If you are properly prepared to interview and have all your ducks in a row then job fairs can and often do provide very successful outcomes. Many factors affect your success and guess what matters most... Yup, timing! Timing is almost all that matters.

Attending a job fair can provide real employment opportunities assuming that you find the needle in the haystack employer that is looking for someone exactly like you. Right skills, right fit, right place, right time. All things being equal, every applicant that walks into a job fair has just as much of a chance of being hired as the next person. Your strategy is to be the most prepared person in the room.

Here are a couple of tips when planning to attend a job fair:
1. Research the attending companies. Know a little something about them before you step up to their booth. Try to learn what their needs are and present yourself as the solution.
2. Dress the part. If you are a plumber and are applying for positions within your industry, dress one level up from your normal work day attire. Pressed khakis and a polo shirt or long sleeve button up with clean shoes or boots would be very appropriate. If you are a financial auditor looking for work, you would be best in your suit and tie.
3. Bring resumes. Bring clean, non crinkled resumes for distribution. Even if you have previously applied online, have a clean resume to pass out. Be sure your resume has your contact information, highlights your best qualities and accomplishments, is free of errors and has adequate white space.
4. NO GUM. Gum at a job fair is taboo. Use breath mints if you have a concern.
5. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your cell phone while in the main expo and remove your earbuds. Playing music from any portable device also demonstrates a lack of interest in the process.
6. SMILE. A warm heartfelt smile can go a long way in breaking the ice and establishing rapport.

Job Fairs are a great way to make a first impression, provided it is the right one. Making a bad impression during a job fair can leave you earmarked as a nonviable candidate for a very long time.

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