Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Day At The (Job) Fair

Telling someone you are going to take them for a day at the fair will generally elicit joy. If you then mention that it's a career fair, the reaction might be more muted.

Lack of cotton candy and games aside, job fairs are an extremely useful tool for job seekers. They present unique opportunity to network and make face-to-face connections with recruiters at various organizations. Online networking grabs a lot of attention these days, but the traditional networking you can do at career fairs should not be ignored.

Fairs can be a pretty overwhelming place, so if you plan to attend one, make sure to be well-prepared. You can achieve this by making use of these techniques:

  • Plan Ahead: Find out which organizations will be attending the fair and research as much as you can about them. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to converse with the recruiters.
  • Don't Waste Time: Recruiters have to deal with countless job seekers at the fair, so make sure you plan a short statement that sums up who you are and the skills you would bring to the organization.
  • Get A Business Card: Assuming your talk goes well, you should follow up with the recruiter so you can have a more detailed discussion. Make sure to ask for a business card after your initial conversation at the fair (and give them yours).
  • Dress Appropriately: Just because you aren't going in for a formal interview doesn't mean you can wear shorts and a tee-shirt. You don't have to wear a suit and tie, but you can't be too casual either.
  • Prepare Questions: Asking questions is a good way to gather additional information about the organization and to show that you have done your homework. For example, you can ask the recruiter about a recent fundraising campaign the organization recently completed.

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