‘’I’ve never heard of your company, what do you do?’’ Chances are, you’ve said this to a potential employer at a job fair. You’re not alone, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. From an employer point of view, this means you didn’t do your homework. That, in turn, signals that you’re neither detail-oriented nor organized. In other words, not someone they’d consider hiring. To be fair, as an attendee, I used to think job fairs are useless. I’d spend all day walking around, trying to impress someone into offering me a job. Honestly, it felt like a waste of time. But now, after participating in a job fair with Enhancv and learning about the employer side of things, I’ve learned a number of tricks for impressing employers (read: me) at job fairs. Here are my 7 tips to make your day stress-free and successful.
1. Think ahead and plan your day
A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
As much as this sounds obvious, most people still don’t do it. Because, let’s face it, spontaneity may be awesome for, say a night out of a road trip, but not so much for a job fair. It’s essential to plan ahead in order to work out what your objective is. Is it networking and gathering new contacts, meeting new people, or making an impression that can essentially get you a job they offer?
Having a plan at hand will enable you to take the full advantage of a job fair. You’ll set up your expectations and be prepared to evaluate afterwards.
2. Research beforehand
Some people who came to talk to us at the last job fair had no idea who we were and why we were there. It’s almost like attending a party you were invited to a month ago without checking whether it’s a birthday, casual dinner, or a family gathering. Do you need a present? Is there a dress code?
Before attending a job fair, answer these questions about each company, or at least the ones you want to talk to:
- What do they do?
- What products or services do they use?
- What do you like about them?
- Are you interested in any of the job positions they’re advertising?
Doing this will not only increase your confidence but make starting a conversation easier. In general, you’ll give off a positive vibe and be remembered as “the smart one who knew about all the awesome work we do.”
3. Smile and be curious
Smiling is contagious. Just look at a picture of a smiling baby. It’s almost impossible not to smile too. Unless you don’t like babies, but maybe don’t mention that to employers. Point is, when you pass by a company’s stand, try to smile. You’ll look more approachable and pleasant to talk to. As an employer, I approach smiling people right away.
Also, be curious.There’s nothing more flattering for employers who are promoting themselves at a career fair than a curious person asking about their product or giving them feedback (the constructive kind, don’t jump in and tell them how to run their business after a 30-second conversation).
4. Bring your resume
Sometimes, companies won’t have a position suitable for you and your expertise at a job fair. That might make you feel there’s no point leaving your resume with them. But that’s not always true. At Enhancv, we always look out for new talent and if we spot someone special, we’ll always consider them. After talking to other employers, I know that other companies do the same.
Therefore, make sure you have your polished and updated resume at hand (and enough copies!). If you have a specific employer and position in mind, then it’s also worth creating a tailored resume for it. Use the company’s colors and include skills they mention in the job requirement. Your resume should answer the question they will have – ‘’Why should we hire you?’’ Even better if they can think “this person seems eerily well suited for us…”
5. Exchange emails with others
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to know someone who seems like a perfect fit for the job we’re offering and then realizing I lost their email. It’s like when you meet that perfect boy or girl at a party. They write their name on your phone but you accidentally delete it when trying to copy-paste it in a Facebook search.
How can you make sure the employer doesn’t lose your email? A good idea is to have your business cards at hand. If you’re a student and don’t have them, you can find help on how to make some at reasonable prices here. Another way is to make them write your email down on their phone or in a spreadsheet. Make sure they hit the ‘’save’’ button. This way you’ll be sure it will never get lost.
6. Follow up with them
After you talk to your potential employer at a career fair, they don’t spend weeks thinking about how amazing you are. They’ve got a business to run! The best you can do is reminding them about yourself by dropping them a line after you come back home.
The memories of the experience will be fresh in both your and their mind and they’ll be more capable of forming an opinion about you. When I was a student, I didn’t realize how important it is to follow-up with someone I met or talked to after a networking event. I understood the power of it once I started my first real job. It feels great to receive an email from an enthusiast potential hire about how great it was to meet me that day.
7. Take your time to evaluate
When the (hopefully) exciting day is over, evaluate it. Did you meet your objective? How was the vibe of the event? Was there anything you could have done better?
All that will help you to do much better next time. Also, the whole process of planning will get easier and faster, I promise. 😉
Back to you
Does any of this sound familiar? If you found yourself shamefully nodding along to each point, then clearly it’s time to try something new! So try heading off to your next job fair with these tips in hand and see how it goes. Just be sure to think of me when you reach the top.