How to Navigate a Jobs Fair [EdSurge Tips]

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How to Navigate a Jobs Fair [EdSurge Tips]

By EdSurge Jobs     Oct 3, 2017

How to Navigate a Jobs Fair [EdSurge Tips]

You’re wearing your best business casual. You have your resume printed and your business cards ready to go. You walk into a room lined with company banners and hiring managers ready to give out free pens and candy to find their perfect candidate. How do you make the most of the next two hours? How do you set yourself apart from 300 other jobseekers? Don’t worry, we’re here to give you the skinny.

Before The Fair

Update your deets.

Make sure your resume, LinkedIn and business cards are all up-to-date going into a jobs fair! Hiring managers will receive a stack of resumes by the end of the fair and will only scan each for a few seconds before deciding whether or not to read on. Put your best foot forward. Hiring managers will often look you up on LinkedIn, too–present your best self online.

Prep your elevator pitch.

Jobs fairs are like speed-dating; you only have a few minutes to make yourself memorable. Hiring managers may speak with 50 or more qualified candidates in a single event, and you want them to remember you when they look at your resume later. Condense your career story into relevant highlights finishing with the goal of filling one of their open roles into less than a minute. Follow up with a short question–for example, “What are you looking for in this role?”

Know your sh*t.

When you walk up to a table, you should know everything about the company that you can find on the internet. This will show the hiring manager that you made an effort to prepare for the few minutes that you’ll spend together and that you’re serious about the job opening you’re inquiring about. The goal here is to make a great first impression.

At The Fair

Prioritize your list.

You’re going to a two-hour event featuring 30 companies. You want to meet with all of them. Prioritize your top five. You’ll want to factor in time to wait for the hiring manager to finish up a conversation (or a few if they’re popular). You also want to give yourself a little time to regroup after you’ve talked to a few hiring managers.

Keep it brief.

You’re halfway through your life story, and the hiring manager is smiling and looking behind you at the line forming. They are no longer concentrating on how great a product manager you might be. This is about first impressions, not sealing the deal. If the hiring manager wants to engage in a longer conversation, follow their lead, but keep your intro to the career highlights and goal that you prepped ahead of the fair.

Get their deets.

Following up right after the event ties together everything that is valuable about a jobs fair. You’ve made a great first impression in-person (which counts for a lot!) that is fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. Cement that first impression by following up and asking about next steps. This requires getting their business card or email address first. Even if the hiring manager directs you to a general email like careers @ companynamedotcom, ask for their card or email. In your follow-up email, remind them of a unique detail that you two shared in your brief conversation. Include your resume (again), and give your specific reason for following up.

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