Job fairs are a good way to cover a lot of ground in a shorter amount of time. It allows you to make a lot of contacts, learn about a lot of various job opportunities, pass out a lot of your resumes, and even expand your networking skills. You should not look at it as simply opportunities to land a job; it can also be a way to make contacts that may come in handy down the line. It is important that you work every positive aspect of a job fair to your benefit; but there are also things you should not do.
You and Your Resume: Know It!
Your resume is important, we all know that. Make sure you know all that it contains - know it like the back of your hand. Some people may fudge a little on their resume (never a good idea, by the way), and because some of that may not be totally accurate, it may be information you have forgotten was even listed. Or maybe you have content on there that is older, and you may not be as quick to recall all of the details. Then if asked about it, these things may catch you off guard causing a loss in the professionalism and confidence of your presentation. So, keep it updated, read it and keep it fresh in your mind, and keep it real. Don't be distracted from keeping the conversation fluid, by fumbling to look at your resume to remember things you have there. The resume is basically just an outlined list of facts about your experience and skills. When speaking, turn those points into a more detailed and relevant conversation that sells you to the representative.
Listen and Pay Attention
When speaking with a contact, focus and pay close attention, do not seek to take notes (or if you do, make them short and less distracting); and do not fumble with stuff during this time. When the conversation is over, and you have left the contact, that is the best time to spend a few moments jotting down relevant points so as to have something that will remind you of the meeting and discussion. This will greatly assist you in remembering details for when it comes time to follow up.
Importance of the Follow Up
Obviously you'll make many contacts at a job fair, and not every one will lead to a job. So approach this as an opportunity to make contacts that can be a networking lead for future use. It is a good idea to follow up with those you have met with, and if you found a connection with them (even on a personal side), maybe see about staying connected with them through one of the many social networking sites out there. Keep your name in their mind, and you never know where it might lead. There are many networking sites for business people just for this purpose. Make contacts - make associations and friends with others in your career field, because with some positions, it is all about who you know. You can never have too many friends in your career field, so network for the future.
It is almost always a good rule of thumb to follow up within the first 48 hours after the meeting. Drop them a quick email note outlining your previous conversation so they too will remember points about you. By making sure you do this in a relatively close proximity after the initial meeting will not only help them to more easily remember your meeting, but it will show them you are still active and interested to continue discussions. Don't be one of those type of people that attend job fairs, distribute resumes, and then sit back and wait to be called. Be proactive, take the initiative, network, follow up, and keep active in your career search.
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