A job fair is one of the best ways to search for potential employers and secure the job of your dreams. A job fair is also an event that many people attend and you want to stand out in order to succeed. Thomas J. Ward, Jr., Executive Director of Adelphi University’s Center for Career and Professional Development had pointers to give perspective job hunters. Maria Casey, the Alumni and Graduate Student Career Counselor at Adelphi also had some advice to give.
1. Dress for success
Be sure to dress appropriately. Many employers use this a measure of your professionalism. Look like you take this event seriously. Collared shirts, khakis, slacks, or dress pants or skirts are all appropriate attire. Suits should be dark blue or medium to dark gray. Black may come off as a little authoritative. If you are wearing a skirt, knee-length would be most appropriate. Don’t wear sneakers or heels that you would wear to a club. Black or maroon oxfords or loafers and low or mid heel leather pumps in black or a color that coordinates with your suit. Neutral hose and conservative jewelry is also recommended.
2. Have your papers prepared
Bring many copies of your resume to a job fair. Before you hit “print” though, be sure to get your resume reviewed by someone at your university’s career center or another professional. Also bring a list of references to give to potential employers. Make sure these people know you are using them as a reference and that they are a credible source you can trust to give positive comments about you.
3. Sound professional in the digital world
When including contact information on your resume or when handing it out to employers, ensure that it is appropriate. If your personal e-mail includes words or numbers that you don’t want your grandmother to see, you don’t want your employers to see it either. Your safest bet is to use your school e-mail address.
In addition, make sure your voicemail message is appropriate. Remember, this is the message that not only your friends will hear, but also potential employers. If you come across as unprofessional and inappropriate, your chance of being hired or contacted again by that employer is slim.
Also be sure to update your LinkedIn page and make sure all the information on it is relevant and appropriate.
It’s also very important to evaluate your social media platforms. Anything that has your name attached to it can be found by an employer. Make your online profiles private or, better yet, change your name to an alias that employers can’t track back to you.
4. Research employers that will be at the event
See which employers will be at the job fair and pick your top choices. Research the company to gather more information on their services and programs. The three key tabs you want to click on an employer’s website is their “mission,” “vision,” and “values.” This will help you get a sense of who they are as a company. Also look at their LinkedIn page and conduct a Google search to see any recent articles. You want to approach as an informed consumer. Know what jobs they are offering and prepare informed questions to ask about them, such as, “What can you tell me about the job that isn’t in the description?”
5. Arrive early
It’s good to arrive early to see who’s there and get a layout of the event. Make a “plan of attack” where you locate your top choices, second choices, and backups. Be sure to visit your top choices first so that you can go back to them at the end of the event to thank them again for their time and ensure that you stick in their mind.
6. Work on your elevator pitch
At a job fair, you have 30 seconds or less to appeal to employers. Work on a short description of yourself that you can tell employers when you first approach them. Be sure to include your top skill(s) and what you want to do with them. You want to give them an idea of who you are and who you hope to become, so start with where you are right now (your current job, your school year, etc.). Then segue into past experiences you had and what you learned from them. Finish off with explaining why you’re excited for this particular opportunity.
7. Follow up
After the career fair, send an e-mail to the employers that really stuck out to you. Remind them of what position you were looking at and reiterate your excitement about the opportunity.
8. Go to your university’s career centerYour university’s career center has many services and programs that can help you be successful at a job fair or learn skills that will help you in the interview and job search process. Take advantage of the resources you have!