BOB LANKARD: Take job fairs seriously
June 01, 2014 1:50 AM

“I was done in 45 minutes. It was hardly worth getting dressed up for,” the job seeker told me about his first job fair. “All you do at these things is introduce yourself, give them your resume, and pick up their material. Some company did have good cheese and crackers.”

Job seekers, a job fair is nothing like the county fair. It is an event to be taken seriously.

Think of it the same way one would think of a job interview. In the case of a job fair the job seeker will have a series of interviews with a number of companies. It is not a place to trade r←sum←s for brochures, introduce yourself and get free food.

Before the Job Fair:

The job seeker should know which companies will be there. In most cases newspapers will carry maps of the facility showing where the various tables will be located.

Next the job seeker should rank the participating companies. Give an A for the must-see companies, B for high priority, C for possible and D, no interest.

Each company should be researched just as if you were going to a job interview.

The job seeker should look at each company’s Web page to learn their products or service, locations of various branches and jobs available at the company. Prepare several specific questions for each company based on what you learn.

Plan a 30-second introductory commercial for yourself that will summarize what you can do for that company.

Dress as you would for a job interview.

What to Expect:

It is a bit naive to expect that all companies at a job fair have jobs to offer at the fair. It is not unusual for a company to be at a job fair to collect resumes for future purposes.

It would also be naive to assume the person you buttonhole at the booth has the authority to make a job offer.

It is more likely their job is to weed out the less-than-ideal candidates. They may talk to several hundred and only pass 15 resumes on to the hiring authorities.

A typical interview may last only two to three minutes, so remember the value of a good first impression.

Should do:

Give your 30-second commercial at each table.

Be prepared to ask general questions of each employer. Example: What is the next step in the hiring process?

Do not do:

Do not talk too much. Listen more than you talk.

Don’t take too much free stuff, especially the food. Remember, it’s not the county fair.

After the Job Fair:

One should do the same thing after a job fair as with an interview. Follow up with thank-you notes and phone calls. Do this within four to five days. Follow up with a phone call within two weeks.

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