Are job fairs worthwhile?
October 15, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
I’m receiving so many invitations to all kinds of job and career fairs. I am an internationally trained architect looking for work in my field. What is your opinion about job fairs? Do they work? Should I go? How do I determine if it is an event worth attending given my profession?
Job Fair Rules
Dear Job Fair Rules
I’ve been to successful job fairs and I’ve been to disasters. I’ve worked representing JVS at a booth and I’ve worked the room as a job developer looking for employers and job opportunities.
Here is some advice compiled from the outstanding JVS employment counsellors specializing in providing services for internationally trained professionals and newcomers to Canada.
• Research the attending companies/employers. The first thing to do is find out who’s coming to the career fair looking for potential employees. Most of the time, it is possible to obtain a list before the event. Look over the list, research the companies’ websites and the job opportunities to see which companies might be the best fit for you. You can even dig a little deeper to see whether you can find information on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
If this is not possible, I would consider this a red flag. Then again, you never know, so if you have the time, inclination and TTC tokens available, you might take a risk. That is up to you. Sometimes this is clear on the flyers. Other times, you might have to call up the organizers. The information you receive (or not receive) should be sufficient for you to make a decision about whether to attend.
• Make an appointment. At some career events, companies prefer it if you make an appointment to speak with a representative. Find out from the event organizer – or even from the attending company – whether appointment slots are available. Then, arrange to meet the recruiter at the event. If you are making a few appointments, make sure you leave adequate time between your interviews so that you aren’t late to a meeting.
If you cannot make appointments before the event, Mazzocato warns that “if your sole purpose is to attend a large fair in order to seek quality time to discuss your application with an interested recruiter, you will be disappointed.” After each conversation or meeting (if you are lucky as it depends on the lineup at the booth) with the recruiter, take notes, ask for a business card, or if not, get the person’s name and email. Follow up is key. Ask permission to connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn and/or if you can send a follow-up email (otherwise the email might end up in the SPAM folder).
If possible, I would recommend that you find career and job fairs that are targeted to your specific industry and related fields. Sector-specific job fairs tend to attract smaller, more focused recruiters/candidates, adds Mazzocato.
• Be prepared to sell yourself. Since you know which companies you will be pitching while you’re there, you can prepare to sell yourself. Consider preparing a personal statement – also known as an elevator pitch. This short introduction should be a way to express your fitness for working at the company. Have an idea of slightly different things to emphasize with different reps. Don’t be too complicated, though: you can’t read your personal statement, so keep it as simple as possible.
• Bring an Updated Resume. Make sure your resume is up to date with your LinkedIn and Twitter links in the contact information. Consider preparing a cover letter to accompany the resume. If you know which companies you are targeting specifically, you can prepare different versions of your resume (and cover letter) to emphasize different skills. Be sure to label them clearly, or use sticky notes attached to the front, so that you don’t mix up your resumes.
• Come up with open-ended questions. Show that you are interested in working for a company by asking open-ended questions at the career fair. Recruiters will feel better about your conversation, if they feel engaged. Ask about open positions, and ask what the representative likes best about working for the company. You can also ask for tips for getting hired with the company, or discuss some of the recent positive news about the company. Don’t ask about salary at a career fair.
• Dress and act professionally. You want to look and act the part to make a good impression at the career event. Some events have dress codes, so you should find out. Even if there isn’t a dress code, take care with your appearance. You should appear well-groomed. At the very least, dress business casual. While you may not need to be in a full suit, slacks, a button up shirt and tie can go a long way towards projecting a professional image. Speak and act professionally as well, avoiding vulgarity in words and gestures. Offer a firm handshake when you meet the recruiter, and make appropriate eye contact.
By preparing ahead of time, and showing that you can be a valuable asset, you can increase the chances that your career event will turn into a job offer.
Sourced from JVS employment counsellors, job search workshop materials and http://financialhighway.com/6-tips-for-working-a-career-event/
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Joanna Samuels, B.A., B.Ed. is a certified Life Skills Coach, Career Management Fellow and Personality Dimensions Facilitator, who is a team lead of employer services and job developer/job coach at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS Toronto).
EMETemployment, a division of ©Jewish Vocational Service (JVS Toronto) is a free confidential employment support and referral service for job seekers from the Jewish community. In addition, EMETemployment offers employers recruitment services at no cost. For more information, visit www.emetemployment.ca.