If you're like many job seekers, you scour the Internet for employment. Although online job searches have become one of the most popular ways to find a job, experts say attending job fairs is still one of the best options for seeking employment because they allow a candidate to explore and pursue additional opportunities. Metro Atlanta career specialists say you can maximize your job fair time by planning ahead and following through:
1. Do your research.
Choose a specific job fair, and investigate the companies that will be there.
"Never approach a booth at a career fair by asking, 'What does your company do?' By pre-registering, you have submitted your resume so that the prospective employers can view it," said career counselor M.J. Murphy: Master of Science (M.S.) Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). By researching the companies attending, added Murphy, you will be able to determine which companies are of interest to you as well as develop smart questions and present yourself as a serious candidate.
In addition to scoping out companies' information, go the extra mile and look up available positions on the company's website. John E. Long Educational Specialist (ED.S.), Board Certified Coach (BCC), Master Career Specialist (MCS), says to anticipate several questions, based upon the strengths and qualities listed in several job postings of interest. Prepare concise scripts to communicate an example of how you have leveraged each strength and quality in your experience.
"Review web content on behavioral interviewing and also prepare your focused elevator speech, your response to the 'tell me about yourself prompt,'" said Long.
2. Perfect your resume.
Your resume should be a reflection of your professional accomplishments and work history. It will be a reference item for employers; therefore, you should customize your resume for the exact job that you want.
According to Long, many candidates have a one-size-fits-all resume that only speaks to the tasks and responsibilities associated with their career roles. "No one wants to read their job descriptions. They should craft an achievements-based resume that presents the strengths, expertise, credentials and accomplishments (such as completed projects), communicating the value they will bring to an employer on day one," he said.
3. Look the part.
Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover so come dressed to impress! You should be dressed in business attire, so a clean polo shirt, khakis and casual shoes are a no go.
Make sure that you hair is clean and neat as well as your nails. Also, your makeup, cologne/perfume or jewelry should not be a distraction.
"Even if the job you are looking for does not require this attire on the job, you must have business attire for the job fair and interview," said Murphy. "You have to care about even the details you think are silly because these details can potentially weed you out of the running unfairly." And don't even think about chewing gum.
4. Always follow up.
With the amount of resumes that hiring managers receive and the numerous faces they see, make sure that you stand out after your initial meeting.
Long recommends you leave a job fair with the contact information (business card) for the reps whose companies piqued your interest and request an interview.
A handwritten note makes the follow-up more personal, and Murphy said the note will impress recruiters and hiring managers.
"A handwritten note is often the best choice if you are sure you have a direct contact address for the person you want to reach."
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