Yesterday’s unemployment numbers were downright scary — 533,000 jobs lost in October. For the jobs that are available, it’s an employer’s market, and to streamline the process and find the best candidates possible, many are using job fairs to fill their positions.
I’ve been to many of these career expos over the years, as a presenter, resume reviewer, and even on behalf of an employer, seeking new employees. Here are some tips I’ve put together to help you put your best foot forward.
1. Do your Homework. Find out in advance which employers will be there and research the job vacancies available before you leave home. Hit those employers first when you get to the fair. Also don’t wait till the end of the day. I’ve seen a lot of these employers pack up and leave just after lunch.
2. Dress to impress! This is not a home and garden show, yet I’ve seen a number of job seekers in the past chewing gum, and wearing skimpy outfits, flip flops, and attire not suitable for a job search. Treat the job fair like you would a job interview. Dress up in business clothing.
2. Leave the kids and spouse at home. Job seekers pushing strollers, or even walking hand in hand with their significant other will not be taken seriously. Job interviews are done solo.
3. If your resume is more than a page, print page two on the backside of page one. I know this seems contradictory of previous advice to always print it out on separate pages, but after talking with several recruiters at job fairs, I’ve been told they like it back-to-back. That way a page won’t get lost if a wind gust scatters all those resumes in the parking lot at the end of the day.
4. Make a positive introduction. Most job seekers at these fairs walk up to the booth and say something like, “what do you have?” Instead, shake the recruiters hand, look him/her in the eye and say “I’m John Doe, a CPA with 10 years experience with successful results working in the building industry. Do you have any openings that might match my qualifications?”
5. Follow up! If you find an employer interested in your qualifications, get a business card and follow up with an email asking for another interview.
6. Don’t discount temporary employment. Many temp agencies have booths at job fairs and have “temp to hire” positions. A temporary gig is a great way to try out your next employer and keep some cash coming in at the same time.
7. Don’t complain about how bad it is out there in the job market. Employers want to hear the positive, not the negative.
8. Some companies pass out goodies such as pens (for the job application) or breath mints. Grab a breath mint, just in case.
9. Bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer. You’ll be shaking a lot of hands, and the last thing you need is to get sick during your job search.
10. Don’t talk about money. If you’re asked what kind of salary you’re seeking, ask how much is budgeted for the position. He who mentions money first, loses.
It is possible to get a job in a poor economy. It just takes more work, and time.