Career Fairs can be an exciting, yet stressful time for anyone looking for a job. Whether you’re in school or in the workforce looking for a change, you have a unique opportunity to connect with recruiters and managers from various companies and industries at one event. If you are interested in attending a career fair, JX is hosting one at our Bolingbrook, IL location on September 24, 2019. If you cannot attend the career fair but are interested in a new career opportunity with JX, view our open positions here and apply today!
Here is a guide to prepare you for the next career fair:
Sign up & Research
Once you have decided to attend a career fair there are a few things you should do to prepare. First and foremost, if you need to register for the event, make sure that is taken care of.
- Confirm all of the fun details: date, time, building, room #, etc.
- Most companies/schools will post a list of all of the employers that will be at the career fair. Print it out.
- Pick at least five companies that you are interested in talking to. Go to their website and write down 2-3 interesting things about each of them. It could be about their company history, awards they’ve won, their philanthropy efforts or recent growth. Bring your notes to the career fair. Before you go speak to each company, review the notes you made and bring them up in your conversation with the representative. Don’t be surprised if they give you their business card and ask you to apply ASAP.
Building your Resume
Most employers will ask for a resume. Don’t have one? You better create one. To get started simply Google “resume template” and find one that looks simple, easy to scan (recruiters spend, on average, 7 seconds reviewing a resume) and appealing.
- Enter your information in place of the template’s words.
- Make sure there is nothing left from the template you downloaded (no “enter your email address here” wording).
- No picture or personal information, including your hobbies.
- Keep it one page unless you have over 10 or 15 years of work experience.
- No staples if it’s multiple pages.
- Check for spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, etc.
- Education information goes on top if you’re still in school; it goes on the bottom if you’re not in school anymore.
- Quantify any accomplishments (i.e. Increased retail sales 58% YOY from 2017-2018).
- Print at least double the number of resumes you think you’ll need. If you want to talk to ten companies, print at least twenty resumes.
- Buy some quality resume paper from Amazon or your local office supply store to print your resume on.
- After your resume is finalized, find three detail oriented people (preferably those who review/write resumes, or who are very particular about grammar, punctuation, etc.) and ask them if they’d be willing to review your resume. You may think your resume is perfect but they will look at it from a different perspective. Give them about a week. If you ask them the night before the career fair they may not be able to review it in time.
What to Bring to the Career Fair
To make sure you are fully prepared there are few extra items (along with copies of your resume) you should bring with you to the career fair, just in case.
- A separate “References” page in case employers ask for one. Just don’t staple it to your resume.
- Bring a cover letter in case some employers request one.
- Have a list of questions ready. Come up with at least five questions that you want to ask each employer. Make sure none of them include pay or benefits. Your job is to see if this company is a good fit for you. Feel free to write the questions down or print them off so you have access to read them at the career fair.
- Create an elevator pitch. This is your opportunity to sell yourself in 30 seconds to a recruiter/hiring manager.
Dress to Impress
First impressions are very important which is why you want to look your best at the career fair.
- Make sure you have a business appropriate outfit. You don’t need a three piece suit simply dress one step above the job you’re applying for. If you’re a technician, no suit is required, but it definitely makes a statement to the hiring manager/recruiter. Check to make sure your outfit is clean prior to the career fair. If it needs dry cleaning, take care of that at least two to three days before the career fair.
- Has it been a few months, or years, since you’ve had a haircut? It might not be a bad idea to get a trim before the career fair.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before so you’re well rested.
It’s Career Fair Day!
Eat a healthy breakfast (fruit, eggs, oatmeal, greek yogurt, etc.), shower, shave (men), brush your teeth and get ready to impress each company. Be prepared to impress the recruiters and sell yourself.
- Avoid wearing any cologne, perfume or smelly lotion. You want to be remembered for your education, skills, experience and personality – not how you smelled.
- Show up to the career fair early and bring your resume.
- Leave your phone in your car.
- Review your notes and interview questions before going to talk to each company. Smile, make eye contact, have a firm handshake, introduce yourself and rock that elevator speech. Your job is to sell yourself. If you can’t articulate why they should hire you, how do they know that they should hire you?
- Ask for their business card. You’re going to want to follow up with each person you met with. Make a note on one thing you talked about in your conversation and reference that in your follow-up email.
- Before you leave the conversation with each employer, ask the following questions:
- Do you have any questions about my skills or education?
- What are the next steps in the process?
- Email each person you met within 24 hours. Mention something you talked about in your conversation. To say that they’ll be impressed is an understatement. Let them know what jobs you’re going to apply for.
- Apply for any jobs that you’re interested in within 24-48 hours. Read every document in its entirety and make sure you’ve answered every field that is required.
If you haven’t heard from a recruiter within a week, follow up with the representative from the company you met with and/or their HR/Recruiting department. Let them know you’re very interested in the position and provide them with your interview availability. Be pleasant and excited, not rude and upset.
Remember, you have no idea who your competition is and what they can offer that you can’t. If you do many of the steps listed above, you will leave a great impression and (hopefully) companies will be more interested in moving forward with you. If they give you their card, ask you a lot of questions, and strongly encourage you to apply on their website that night, that’s a good sign you rocked the career fair.
Author: Nick Stafford, JX Enterprises, Talent Acquisition Specialist