It seems like every week there is a job fair you could be attending. That’s great for you if you’re actively searching for a job, right? But are they the best investment of your time? Here’s our advice to get the best results in the least amount of time.
Before the Event
Register in advance and get a list of the attending employers.
Prepare a Master Resume from which to create tailored resumes. Include all your education, work experience, volunteer activities, and certifications. Include your military service, security clearance, and association memberships. Use strong quantitative bullets and facts to describe your work experience. Include a bulleted list of your major skills and qualifications. Draw from your past evaluations and awards for content. Length doesn’t matter here.
Let Still Serving Veterans review your resume (and LinkedIn!) and advise on formatting and tailoring.
Research the attending employers to be prepared for on-the-spot interviews.
- Check their website for open positions.
- Print the descriptions for positions you’re interested in.
- Research and make notes about each company you’re interested in so you know what they do, what their major products and services are, and any relevant current events worth discussing.
- Tailor your resume to best represent you for the specific position. Aim for 1-2 pages max.
- Do this for each position you want to discuss with employers at the job fair.
- Print at least one copy of each tailored resume.
- Have the notes, resume, and the job description in a folder for each employer.
Prepare your “elevator pitch”. You should be able to succinctly and confidently say who you are, the position you’re interested in, and why you’re best qualified for that position (with strong, quantitative reasons). About 60 seconds.
Dress for success. Wear clothes appropriate for an interview to the event. That’s not always a 3-piece suit. Ideally you’re dressed similar to, and just above, the office environment where you’ll be working. Nothing less than business casual though.
TIP: Check their website and company social media to see how their office workers represent themselves online and dress on the higher end of that scale.
Personal grooming. Men, trim the beard or be clean shaved, and get a haircut. Overall you want to present a neat, clean, well-groomed appearance. The recruiter should be able to imagine you fitting in well with their team by the look of your attire and your grooming.
Get a good night of sleep. Wake up early. Have a healthy breakfast but not too heavy. Review your job descriptions and the employers you want to visit. Practice your elevator pitch. Check the weather forecast and prepare appropriately. Bring a notepad and pens along with your prepared folders.
Know in advance: Does the event require masks or proof of vaccinations?
At the Event
Arrive early. Walk the floor to get the lay of the land. Relax. Breathe. Smile. Stay POSITIVE! Assume you are always being interviewed and everything you say and do matters, even when you’re walking between tables. That person you bumped into in the hall may be the next recruiter on your list.
Approach each employer confidently and with a smile. Stand tall. Greet the recruiter and introduce yourself. Explain that you would like to discuss a position they have open and have your folder ready. Ask for their business card so you know who you’re talking with. Use your prepared elevator pitch. Take notes as needed. Visit each employer on your list. Make sure you have the persons email address. Ask if they’d be willing to connect on LinkedIn. If so, you will send them a connection request. Also let them know you will email them a copy of the resume.
Visit the other booths and collect cards, and make connections to expand your network of possible employers. Many high-dollar jobs come from personal connections rather than cold-calling applications. Smart networking today may land you a forever dream job tomorrow.
- Don’t over-share. Explain your suitability for the position. Ask relevant questions about it. Answer questions briefly and honestly. Ask for an interview with an appointment time if appropriate.
- Don’t linger in their booth. Accomplish your objective and move on. Be cordial and friendly but stick to business. You have others to go meet and so do they.
- Don’t be negative, about anything! You love your past job. You’re a good fit for the position you’ve asked about. Everything is wonderful.
- Don’t discuss politics or religion, at all, ever, unless it’s a specific feature of the job.
- Don’t misrepresent yourself, your education, qualifications, abilities, or your experience. Be honest in all things. If it costs you the job, you likely weren’t a good fit anyway and wouldn’t have lasted long in the position.
After the Event
Send your LinkedIn connection invitations to everyone who you collected a card from. Include a note reminding them you met at the event and would like to add them to your professional network.
Email each recruiter to thank them for their time. Include a copy of the resume you provided and remind them of the job you were interested in, including the description if possible. As an example:
Dear Mr. Recruiter,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about your open Program Manager position (#2562546). I appreciated your insight about working at X Company and look forward to hearing from you soon. I have attached my resume and a copy of the job description for your convenience.
A week later you can reply-all to the same email and ask if they had any feedback or questions regarding your work experience. You can say that, if they feel you are a good fit for the position, what is the timeline and next steps in their hiring process. Don’t push too hard. You are just trying to be proactive and let them know you’re interested.
Then let it go. Move on to your daily job search strategy. Work with your SSV counselor and continue to build your network on LinkedIn by joining relevant groups in your profession and in your military, community, and college affiliations. Follow the companies you have applied to or are interested in so you can stay updated on their activities.
Watch your notifications. When they come across, say happy birthday or happy anniversary or congratulations on the new role. Engage with people and they will engage back. As a result, LinkedIn will show your posts more prominently. Join the overall conversation. Remember to stick to professional discussions. Don’t get pulled into controversial topics that could turn off some in your network. You are always being interviewed. Anything you put online can be used to accept or reject you as a hiring candidate. Put your best image out there.
★ For help with your job search, reach out to the Veteran Career & Transition team at Still Serving Veterans, https://ssv.org/careerservices
★ Join the conversation on our LinkedIn Group to receive info we post nowhere else: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12623085/
★ Follow us at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ssveterans/ to be updated on all SSV is doing for our Veteran community.