The following post comes from Joanne Guidoccio at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.
Going to a job fair is good. But getting call-backs is better.
Job fairs aren’t limited to new graduates at college and university campuses – not anymore, anyway. These well-attended events also attract seasoned professionals, retirees, and the unemployed. (To find the nearest job fair, visit Carousel Expo – simply click on your state and scroll down to the present month.)
Of course, job fairs are all about meeting the most employers in the shortest amount of time. So the trick is getting the call-back – basically, the invitation for a second interview. Here’s how to improve your odds…
1. Do your homework
Obtain a list of companies that will be at the job fair – it’s often as easy as visiting the fair’s website. Research those that interest you, learning as much as you can about their products or services, mission statements, and company cultures. Don’t depend upon the company literature available at the different booths, because that won’t help you when you shake hands and show off your advance knowledge.
2. Prepare your resume – and bring a lot of them
Update your resume and ask a trusted friend or relative to proofread the document for spelling and grammatical errors. Double-check the information bits in the header, especially the mailing address, telephone number, and email address.
Prepare multiple copies of your resume, at least two for each targeted company. You should also bring scannable versions of your resume. Many recruiters are taking their stacks of resumes back to the corporate office and scanning them into a database.
3. Practice your elevator speech
Rehearse a personal introduction that allows you to summarize your most significant qualifications and achievements in the time span of an elevator ride. When meeting with a recruiter, don’t immediately hand over your resume. Instead, use your elevator speech to introduce yourself and then ask a pertinent question or two about the organization.
4. Plan your visit
When you arrive, survey the layout of the fair and determine an interviewing order. Whenever possible, meet with your top choices first thing in the morning. If you’re faced with long lines at a particular booth, move on to the other companies on your list.
5. Connect with each recruiter
Greet the representative with a firm handshake, show enthusiasm, and maintain eye contact throughout the entire conversation. Don’t aim to drop off a set number of resumes – focus on establishing solid job prospects instead. Take notes after each conversation, which will avoid confusion later.
6. Follow up
Ask for the interviewer’s business card before leaving the booth. Follow up with a thank-you email within 24 hours of the job fair. In that email, restate your qualifications for the position and repeat your interest in a second interview. Enclose another copy of your resume. When you follow up in this manner, you demonstrate a high level of courtesy and respect. This gives you a definite edge over the candidates who do not send thank-you notes.
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